Lady Tigers clinch bi-district round title

Courtesy photo
Coach Chris Williams and the Wills Point Lady Tigers captured a bi-district championship with a 20-25, 25-14, 25-21, 25-18 over the Crandall Lady Pirates in Forney Oct. 30. Wills Point will now take on District 15-4A champion Texarkana Pleasant Grove in the Area round of the playoffs.

On paper, the Wills Point Lady Tigers appeared to have one of the most difficult first round match-ups of any Van Zandt County team in this year's playoffs after being paired with District 13-4A representative Crandall in the bi-district round.

The Lady Tigers and Lady Pirates had met once before during the 2018 season with Crandall scoring a dominating 25-13, 25-10, 25-10 victory over Wills Point.

The Lady Tigers exacted a measure of revenge against Crandall as the two teams met Oct. 30 in Forney as Wills Point battled back from an early deficit to score a 20-25, 25-14, 25-21, 25-18 victory.

Crandall looked to be well on its way to another easy win over the Lady Tigers in the first set, scoring six consecutive points to put the Lady Tigers in a major deficit. The lead would eventually swell to 10-2 to force the Lady Tigers into taking a timeout.

The brief stop in play did little to slow down Crandall as the Lady Pirates eventually built a 17-7 lead. Wills Point finally found its footing trailing by 10, getting strong play from Dawn Smith, Addison Prather, Jeslyn Martinez and Hope Turner among others to gradually battle their way back into the match. The deficit would eventually be cut down to just 21-19, but Crandall found its second wind to take the opening set 25-20.

Wills Point roared back in the second set, following in a season-long trend of starting slow only to rally back to easily dismiss the Lady Pirates. Wills Point captured the first four points of the second set, eventually pulling ahead 8-3 to force a Crandall timeout.

The Lady Tigers continued to fire on all cylinders throughout the rest of the set as they gradually built a comfortable 10-point margin. The Lady Tigers matched Crandall point for point at the end of the frame to close out the set 25-14 and even the match at 1-1.

The third set was back and forth throughout the early stages as Wills Point and Crandall traded points to reach an 8-8 tie. Fueled by solid play from its back row and powerful hitting from Olivia McMath and Melanie Sullivan, the Lady Tigers began to find some separation midway through the set with a five-point run that helped Wills Point establish an 18-12 lead.

The Lady Tigers held off a mini Crandall run that cut their lead down to 21-19 to surge again late and take the third set 25-21.

Wills Point closed out the night with another impressive showing, scoring 11 out of the first 15 points in the fourth set to take a commanding lead. The Lady Tigers fended off every Crandall challenge down the stretch, allowing the Lady Pirates to string together consecutive points just four times in the final set en route to a 25-18 match-winning set.

Wills Point, now 29-12 on the season with a bi-district championship on their resume, will take on District 15-4A champion Texarkana Pleasant Grove in the Area round. The Lady Hawks have saved their best volleyball for the most important part of the season, going 7-1 overall in district play before sweeping Henderson 25-14, 25-19, 25-13 in the bi-district round.

The exact date, time and location of the Wills Point-Texarkana Pleasant Grove match-up was not immediately available as of press time.