Whitewright ends skid, sweeps Tioga

Jason Della Rosa
Herald Democrat
Whitewright's Ashton Long attacks the net during the Lady Tigers' victory against Tioga.

WHITEWRIGHT — There have been a lot more missed matches than time on the court lately for the Lady Tigers, so there was an obvious reason for some early struggles in their final tune-up before district play begins.

“A lot of it was rust. Some of these girls hadn’t played in 10 days. That kinda changed our momentum,” Whitewright head coach Kailey Marsh said. “The biggest thing was serve-receive. We changed it up second and third set and it worked a lot better.”

The Lady Tigers are hoping to settle back into their routine following a 25-21, 25-13, 25-16 victory over Tioga in non-district action that snapped a five-match losing streak.

Ashton Long had 10 kills, five aces and three digs, Regan Eldredge chipped in five aces and nine digs and Rylie Godbey added six kills and three blocks for Whitewright (8-11), which hosts Blue Ridge to begin District 11-3A action on Friday afternoon.

“It’s going to be a battle,” Marsh said. “Going into district, we have all the skill there and talent; it comes down to discipline and doing the right things.”

Tioga (51 will also open its district slate with a trip to Dodd City to start 16-2A play on Friday.

“As a new coach I’ve been using pre-district to get to know the girls and figure things out,” Lady Bulldogs head coach Andrea Osbourn said. “It’s about the pieces to the puzzle. I think we’re finding them.”

It will help Tioga to get back Kelsee Vandagriff, who has been out with a foot injury, sometime late next week.

Whitewright had a much easier time in the final two games than it did in the opener, which saw the Lady Tigers lose the lead in the middle of the frame and wrestle it back only for Tioga to have a late chance to steal the upper hand.

After the Lady Tigers jumped out to a 4-0 lead, the Lady Bulldogs reeled off four straight points of their own. Whitewright quickly regained the advantage and held a slim 10-8 margin when Tioga jumped in front for the first time at 11-10 as part of a 5-0 burst.

A service error ended the push by the visitors and kick started a 6-0 response from Whitewright.

Tioga battled back twice to tie the score, the last at 19, before the Lady Tigers were able to produce enough of a cushion and some kills from Long to close out the game and put the Lady Bulldogs on their heels.

The missed opportunity would come back to haunt Tioga as Whitewright never trailed in the final two frames.

In Game 2, Long and Robin Edwards helped the home side get off to a 6-2 start. It was a 10-4 deficit when Tioga called a timeout to try and halt the momentum but the Lady Tigers continued to pad their lead.

A 7-1 run pushed Whitewright to the edge of going up 2-0 as it held a 21-8 advantage. Elizabeth Mason was in the middle of closing out the stanza from there.

After the Lady Tigers went in front at the start of Game 3, Tioga managed to tie the score twice, the last at five on a Riley Ross kill, before a 9-0 surge took away any chance of the Lady Bulldogs extending the match.

Eldredge and Emily Collinsworth got the Lady Tigers up 18-9 and Whitewright never let Tioga get closer than seven points the rest of the way to finish off the sweep.

“I only have three or four returners from last year,” Marsh said. “They’re still working hard at it. They have a great mindset and work ethic.”

Non-district

Whitewright            3

Tioga                      0