Italy — During a recent round-robin inside Italy Coliseum, the Italy Lady Gladiators played their opening match against the Lady Bobcats from Kerens. The obviously athletic Lady Bobcats were certainly intimidating in the their dark green uniforms but Italy wasn’t trying to win a fashion show, they were focused on winning a volleyball match.
And with Italy the first to reach 23 points in the first two sets against the talented Keren’s bunch, it appeared Italy would win a set or two at the least. Unfortunately for Italy, Kerens stayed poised and was the first team to 25 points in the first two sets to win 25-23, 25-23 which put pressure on Italy to win the third set in the best 3-out of-5 to stay in the match.
Supporting the Lady Gladiators in the stands were the Gladiator football players and coaches who took time out from their 2-a-day workouts to help inspire the ladies.
Lady Gladiator head coach, Morgan Mathews, lived out every move her team as she motored constantly up-and-down the sideline to encourage her players. Italy’s high energy start was soon overcome by fatigue and thirst going into the third set. Kerens took advantage and dominated the third set 25-17 before Italy could regather themselves. For Italy, standout performances were turned in by setter Bailey Eubank who was flying around the court and delivered sets their were on the mark for power hitters Madison Washington, Kortnei Johnson, Jaclynn Lewis and Paige Westbrook.
While Washington terrorized Kerens offensively, Johnson was equally effective above the net. Westbrook and Lewis were also solid at the net and just as successful on the back row with bumps and digs. Tara Wallis made the most of her time on the court by utilizing her quickness to keep plays alive and Monserrat Figueroa was effective at the net and in the backcourt. A spirited Taylor Turner hopped into the game and Kelsey Nelson was at the ready on what was a strong effort by Italy despite dropping 3 straight sets to Kerens.
After having a chance to watch the Lady Gladiators take on Kerens while his team was on a break from 2-a-days practices, senior Gladiator Shad Newman commented, “Our girls are really good at volleyball!”
Italy challenged Scurry-Rosser in their second match of the round-robin and went the distance to get the win over the Lady Wildcats. Tied 2 sets to 2, the determined Lady Gladiators found a way to win that fifth and final set and split their matches for the evening to finish, 1-1.
With assistant volleyball coach, Tina Richards, guiding the girls, Italy’s JV Lady Gladiators defeated the Kerens JV in 2 straight sets to win their first match of the round-robin but struggled in 2 sets against Scurry-Rosser in their second game.
On Thursday, both Italy squads traveled to Venus on Thursday for a practice tournament. Italy’s varsity shined at times and struggling at other times while sporting their new gold uniforms for the first time this season. Italy managed to split games with Keene and Blooming Grove but lost in 2 sets to Palmer to finish 4th-out of-4 teams in their pool.
Venus Tournament Info – Submitted by Italy Volleyball Head Coach Morgan Mathews:
Thursday, in pool play, Italy split games with Palmer and Keene, and lost to Blooming Grove. Madison Washington was Italy’s top offensive player throughout pool play, while Kortnei Johnson was Italy’s top defensive player. The loss to Blooming Grove put Italy on the consolation side of the bracket going into Saturday.
Saturday morning Italy played South Hills High School, a 4-A school out of Fort Worth. Italy split the first 2 games causing the Lady Gladiators to play a 3rd game. South Hills came out with the win. Italy played extremely well just had a hard time finishing the game. Kortnei Johnson was the Defensive Player of the Game while Madison Washington was the offensive Player of the Game.
In the next round we played Blooming Grove for the 3rd time in 3 days. Italy came out strong in game 1 winning 25-19. In game 2 the momentum shifted in Blooming Grove’s favor giving Italy a 22-25 loss. Game 3 was a battle to the end, but Blooming Grove came out with the win.
Against Blooming Grove, Kortnei Johnson played phenomenal on offense and defense. Johnson had 19 kills, 12 digs, and 4 blocks. Tara Wallis played tenacious defense, as well, digging up 10 balls and Bailey Eubank contributed with 27 assists.
In their final game of the day, Italy played defeated Trinity Christian 25-13, 25-17. The Lady Gladiators played smart volleyball and finished strong.
The Lady Gladiators will play home games on Tuesday vs. Palmer and Venus starting at 4:30 in the dome.