WHITESBORO — Early on the playoff-tested Lady Tigers were being threatened by a team lacking postseason experience. But as soon as things went back in its favor, Gunter was able to hold off the upstart Bells Lady Panthers.

WHITESBORO — Early on the playoff-tested Lady Tigers were being threatened by a team lacking postseason experience. But as soon as things went back in its favor, Gunter was able to hold off the upstart Bells Lady Panthers.


"We had to make a few adjustments and then we were okay," Gunter head coach Tonya Watson said. "We started slow. Once we got going I felt a lot better."


Mikayla Watson had 19 kills, 20 digs and a pair of blocks as Gunter defeated Bells, 25-19, 25-16, 25-11, in a Class 2A Region II bi-district match at Whitesboro on Tuesday night.


Gunter (24-8) will face Brock in the area round at 4 p.m. on Saturday at Argyle.


Six different players had at least four kills for the Lady Tigers, who never trailed in the final two games. Katey Campbell added seven kills and 17 digs, Reilley Hicks chipped in five kills and three digs, Regan Hestand, Kaylee Schmitz and Emily Bruner all put down four kills apiece, Breanna Adkins totaled 19 assists and seven digs and Lana Green finished with 14 assists and 12 digs.


"They really came through," Watson said. "Every one of them got hot at some point. They’re such hard-working girls."


It was the first playoff appearance in four years for Bells (24-12), which had lost 27 of 28 district matches before placing third in District 11-2A this season.


"They made a lot of headway," Lady Panthers head coach Corey Jenkins said. "It was a learning experience for them. The ones coming back are ready to get back in the gym. They got the taste. Now it’s time for the meal and go forward."


Carlee Shelby put down seven kills, Katie Shults added four kills, Emily Fagan had eight assists and 10 digs and Macy Sanders collected nine digs for Bells.


The Lady Panthers led twice in the early stages of Game 1 and never trailed by more than a point until Gunter went on a 5-0 spurt for a 12-6 advantage. The Lady Tigers pulled ahead by double digits only to see Bells start chipping away.


Down 19-9, the Lady Panthers reeled off five straight points while Fagan and Shults had kills as Bells earned eight of nine points during the stretch. That cut Gunter’s lead to 20-17 before a service error by the Lady Panthers. The next two times Bells forced a sideout there was an error from the service line, keeping the Lady Panthers from getting closer than three points.


"Had they been hitting all those serves, it would have been a much closer game," Watson said.


Gunter was able to hold off the rally and Bells wasted a chance to put some pressure on the Lady Tigers.


"We made too many errors. Game 1 was pivotal," Jenkins said. "We dug ourselves too big a hole."


Watson helped Gunter gain the advantage at the start of Game 2 as the Lady Tigers opened a 6-2 lead behind her five kills and a block. Katie Moore and Fagan sandwiched kills around one by Schmitz to try and help Bells even the match. The Lady Panthers were able to get within four at 17-13 before the Lady Tigers closed on a 8-3 run.


Gunter finished out the sweep by claiming nine of the first 10 points in Game 3 behind a pair of kills by Schmitz and Hestand overpowered a block attempt. The Lady Tigers’ lead stayed in double figures after the second of back-to-back Watson kills made it 12-2.