By TONY EIERDAM
RIVER OAKS – Needing a win in a District 6-3A volleyball match to secure a tie for third place and a chance to play in a tiebreaker contest, the Mineral Wells Lady Rams took care of business and defeated the Castleberry Lady Lions, 25-21, 25-13, 23-25, 26-24 here Tuesday night.
The Lady Rams will face Lake Worth Friday at Brewer High School to determine the third and fourth seeds of the district. The time of the tiebreaker has yet to be announced.
The Lady Rams’ first round match of the playoffs will be Tuesday, Nov. 5, tentatively set for 8 p.m. at Jacksboro against either Burkburnett, the second-place team from District 5-3A, or state-ranked No. 11 Iowa Park, the 5-3A champion.
The Lady Rams’ opponent in the first round will be pending the result of the tiebreaker match.
In other 6-3A action Tuesday, Lake Worth defeated Diamond Hill, and state-ranked No. 14 Springtown clinched the district championship with a sweep of Kennedale.
The Lady Rams used aggressive serving, paced by four aces from Emiley Loya, to keep the Lady Lions on their heels, and in the end a block by Emily Rogers clinched game four and the match.
“Emiley did a good job of staying aggressive at the line,” Lady Rams head coach Taylor Eggleston said. “The way she was serving put them off balance and they weren’t able to get the attack they want.
“Sometimes aggressive serving can lead to service errors, but you take that if those mistakes are limited because you are not giving them an easy ball to slam down.”
The Lady Rams cruised to wins in the first two games but lost a late lead in the third game. In game four, they simply outlasted the hosts.
“I think we functioned together as a team in the first two games,” Eggleston said. “We didn’t let balls hit the floor.
“Later it was the craziest volleyball I had ever seen as each team just kept throwing squirrely (easy) balls over the net.
“In games three and four we stopped picking up their squirrely hits and that helped them get back into the match.
“But we did what we needed to do late in the fourth game (to secure the win).”
Game one saw the Lady Rams jump out to a 4-2 in part due to a pair of aces by Sydney Vasquez. Later in the game an ace by Bailey Simonton combined with three Castleberry return errors extended the lead to 17-11.
Scrappy Castleberry fought its way back to cut the lead to 20-19 before a kill each by Bethany Allen and Brittany Guill and a pair of Lady Lions’ return errors brought the opener to game point.
Three rallies later, Allen smashed what looked like the game-winning spike, but a Castleberry defender on the back row couldn’t quite handle the spike and the ball deflected to the net where Guill sent it down to win the game.
MWHS jumped out to a 13-6 lead in the second game thanks in part to three kills from Vasquez, a kill by Guill, a block by Rogers and an ace by Loya.
The Lady Rams stayed aggressive at the net and forced several return errors while Guill added a pair of kills and Vasquez added a stopper for a 23-11 advantage.
Two Castleberry return errors late in the contest sealed the game as MWHS took a 2-0 lead in games.
Castleberry fought hard in game three to try and avoid a sweep. The contest was tied 11 times before settling at 23-23.
The hosts sent down a pair of kills to clinch the game and avoid the sweep.
Game four was also a tight game as it was tied on seven occasions, the last at 17-17.
Castleberry led 22-20 when it committed a service error, and Guill tied the game with a kill from the right side off a feed from setter Erin Burgeson.
The teams split the next four points as the game was tied again, this time at 24-24.
A service error by the Lady Lions brought game four to match point, and Rogers ended the match with a block in the middle as the Lady Rams evened their district mark at 5-5 and in a tie for third place with Lake Worth.