Italy – The Italy Lady Gladiators hosted the Kopperl Lady Eagles on Tuesday night in the dome. The Junior Varsity increased their record in district to 3-2 by winning their match. Even though the Varsity played extremely well and never gave up, they lost to the Lady Eagles in 3 sets.
Coach Tina Richards had her team ready to hit the court with intensity. Italy took a quick 4-1 lead and never relinquished it. Serves, saves, and digs by April Lusk, Ashlyn Jacinto, Talia Wilson, Britney Chambers and Josie Perkins helped the Lady Gladiators give the Lady Eagles more than they could handle. With Italy leading 15-10, Kopperl’s Alyssa Sylva began serving and with the help of her teammates brought her team within 3, but Italy dug in. Italy had a 21-17 lead when Wilson stepped up to serve. She added 4 to give Italy the 25-17 win.
Kopperl retaliated and overpowered Italy to win the set 25-7. With Ashlyn Jacinto serving, Italy took a 3-0 lead. Tori Krantz gave the Lady Eagles a comfortable 11-4 lead with her spot on serves. Kopperl increased their lead to 16-7 when Breanna Bennett began service. She sealed the set by adding 9 straight points, the last 4 unreturned.
The Lady Gladiators proved they had what it takes to finish off an opponent and stepped up their game to take the final set 25-19. With April Lusk serving, they took a 7-0 lead. Kopperl’s Bennett again proved how strong she served when she added 3. Hannah Washington blasted the Lady Eagles with 6 straight serves including 3 aces to give Italy a 23-13 lead. Krantz rallied her Lady Eagles and served 6 straight points. The Lady Gladiators fought back to get within 1 point of the lead. Britney Chambers sealed the deal to give Italy the 29-19 win.
Set 1 proved to be a nail biter from the first play for coach Morgan Mathews’ Lady Gladiators. During the game there were 6 lead changes and 8 ties. Throughout play, both teams showed they would do anything needed to secure the win. Kortnei Johnson, Tara Wallis, and Maddie Washington served Italy well. Jac Lewis, Bailey Eubank, Halee Turner, Johnson and Washington stepped up on defense to secure points for the Lady Gladiators. With the game tied at 23, the Lady Eagles dug in and took the win from Italy 25-23.
Set 2 proved to be more of the same that the fans were treated to in Set 1. The Lady Gladiators kept the crowd fired up with blocks, digs and kills. The teams traded the lead 13 times and tied it up 4 times. Again Johnson, Lewis, Turner, Eubank and Wallis lead the defense. With every play, all six Lady Gladiators gave it all they had. Italy took a 3-2 lead, but that was short lived when the Lady Eagles tied the set. Kopperl’s Angel Smith’s serves netted her team a 9-4 lead. The game see-sawed until Italy tied the score 20-20 with a Turner block at the net. Paige Westbrook tied the game 22-22 with a light tip over the net. Kopperl stepped up to win 25-22.
Kopperl’s went into the final set with a determination to take the match. Lewis, Johnson, Turner, Eubank and Washington fought back with kills, saves and digs, but it just wasn’t enough to put one in the win column. Spot on serves by Kopperl’s Hailey Cormer and Angel Smith helped give Kopperl the 25-13 win.
The scoreboard did not reflect the intensity, determination and skill that the Lady Gladiators demonstrated against Kopperl. They played as a team and never gave up. They proved they are champions despite what the scoreboard showed.