Sherman sweeps Denison in District 10-5A action

Jason Della Rosa
Herald Democrat
Sherman's Samantha Graham puts up a block on Denison's K'Zaria Butler in the Lady Bearcats' win in District 10-5A play at Denison.

After their last meeting forced the Sherman Lady Bearcats to go the distance on their home court and winning the last two games to take down the rival Denison Lady Yellow Jackets, there were no illusions the re-match would be any easier.

And with the two now side by side in the 10-5A standings after Denison ended a long district losing streak right before entering this match-up, Sherman felt when it left hostile territory the Lady Cats would again have the upper hand.

“We came in here to play and we expected they would as well,” Sherman head coach Yolanda Beasley said. “I said to them, ‘you’re tied with them now.’ We showed up.”

Samantha Graham had eight kills and five assists to lead Sherman to a victory that was the complete opposite of the grueling five-gamer a month ago as the Lady Bearcats came away with a 25-17, 25-14, 25-22 win over the Lady Yellow Jackets in district action at Denison.

Nikki Jackman and Marissa Wells each added six kills, Kate Foley chipped in five kills and three blocks and Ella Winslett handed out six assists for Sherman (9-25, 2-8), which moved into a tie with Princeton for sixth place. The Lady Bearcats travel to second-place Lovejoy on Friday with four matches remaining.

“It’s an uphill climb,” Beasley said. “Let’s go leave it all on the floor playing solid volleyball. That’s the finish I want to see them have.”

Denison (7-27, 1-9), which had lost 22 straight district matches dating back to a win over Sherman in the 2019 finale before topping Princeton this past Friday, barely led after Game 1 and came up just short of pushing Sherman to at least a fourth frame.

The Lady Jackets hit the road on Friday with a trip to first-place McKinney North.

Denison jumped to the early lead, notching three of the first four points and was still ahead at 5-4 as Sherman was in the process of going on a 7-0 run which included kills from Wells and Graham for a 10-5 advantage.

The Lady Bearcats made another push with a 5-1 burst to take a 19-11 lead but Maddie Harrington and Jaidyn Schutes got the deficit down to four at 19-15 with four consecutive points.

Foley ended that Denison momentum with a kill and the Lady Jackets were never able to get closer as Sherman finished off Game 1.

The Lady Bearcats never trailed in Game 2 and the latest in that stanza where Denison was able to pull even came on K’Zaria Butler’s kill to knot things up at five.

A service error followed and Sherman started to widen the gap. Holding a 9-6 margin, the Lady Cats then produced a 10-2 run which began with five straight points and Victoria Blankenship on the service line. Blankenship, Jackman and Graham all had kills in this stretch.

Sherman was up 19-8 and ahead by as many as 13 points at 22-9 as the Lady Cats moved a win away from completing the sweep.

Finishing off Game 3 turned out to be harder than it initially looked. Denison showed it wasn’t going to go quietly with some early success before Sherman wrestled away control on the scoreboard.

The Lady Bearcats doubled up the score at 14-7 on a Graham kill but the Lady Jackets picked up a pair of aces from Peyton Williams and then Rorie Deweber landed a kill. A hitting error from Sherman trimmed the gap down to just four points – a margin Denison reached three more times, the last at 22-17.

At that point it looked like Sherman would get the last couple of points needed to end the match but it took longer than expected as a 5-0 run from the Lady Jackets was capped on an ace by Karely Erives and then Kenzie Clark put a kill right on the end line which tied the score.

“We made some errors in there. We needed to do what we did to get there in the first place and we were able to execute,” Beasley said. “It all about adjusting and continuing to grow. I think you’re seeing that.”

Sherman called a timeout and Winslett came away with a kill to put the visitors back in front. Two points later a fourth game had been avoided and the sweep was in the books for the Lady Bearcats, both in this match and for the season series with their rivals.