Sherman earns sweep against rival Denison
The victories have been hard to come by for both the Sherman Lady Bearcats and the Denison Lady Yellow Jackets. They did not get much of a warm-up with the late start to the season and were thrust into district play with just a win between them.
But this rivalry tends to bring out the best on either side of the net.
After being swept the Lady Jackets last season, Sherman took the first step towards returning the favor this year with a 25-21, 25-20, 25-19 victory at Denison in District 10-5A action.
The Lady Bearcats ended a 12-match district losing streak with aggressive play at the net and some strong defense in the back row.
“It was nice. They’ve been working so hard,” Sherman head coach Chelsea Beal said. “We switched our defense this morning and to see it implemented and work was nice.”
Samantha Graham had nine kills, 15 assists, 13 digs and four aces, Emma Jones and Marissa Wells each put down five kills, Nikki Jackman chipped in four kills, six digs and a pair of aces, Ryan Dobbs added three kills and three aces, Jenica Fielder handed out 12 assists and J’Brya Foreman and Kaiden Mullinix each collected seven digs for Sherman (2-8, 1-2), which plays at district co-leader Lovejoy on Friday. The Lady Bearcats moved into a fourth-place tie with Wylie East, Prosper Rock Hill and Princeton.
“They want to play for each other,” Beal said. “I’m not one of those coaches that gets in the middle of team bonding. That’s all them. It’s an area that has been really good this year.”
Chloe Deweber had seven kills and 10 digs, Katherine Hodge added four kills, Drew House put down three aces, Kenzie Clark collected 16 digs and Cheyenne Grant finished with nine digs for Denison (0-8, 0-3), which plays at district co-leader McKinney North on Friday.
“We competed well. The energy was better,” Denison head coach Jana Kelly said. “We made some service errors when it really counted. We’ve talked really in depth about doing the little things every day that will make a difference. Sometimes they’re mundane and boring but how important they are if they aren’t done.”
All three games played out in a similar fashion — the teams traded some early runs with Sherman ultimately gaining the edge and building up a decent lead. Denison made comeback attempts each time and would get within a few points before the Lady Bearcats made plays down the stretch and held on to finish out a sweep.
After trading the first four points in Game 3, Sherman never trailed. Kate Foley and Ivette Sosa were at the forefront of a 5-0 burst which put the Lady Bearcats up 11-5 but their struggles at the service line — six errors in the stanza — nearly allowed Denison to force a Game 4.
Clark and Deweber had consecutive kills as the Lady Jackets were down 17-15 and Denison trailed by three a couple of more times, the last at 21-18, before Sherman again had the answer in the final stages and ended the match with four of the last five points, clinching the victory on a Jackman kill.
Denison seemed ready to come out and tie the match with their start to Game 2.
“Our biggest issue this year has been starting slow,” Kelly said. “I thought we did a better job of that and competed well at the beginning of each game.”
The Lady Jackets were up 8-5 and hadn’t been behind. Sherman made its move. Dobbs tied the frame at nine with a kill and the Lady Bearcats never trailed after the first of consecutive aces from Jackman made it 11-10.
Denison did tie the score at 13 but never reclaimed the lead. Clark’s kill and a Sherman hitting error pulled the Lady Jackets within two at 22-20 but Graham followed with a kill and an ace as the Lady Cats went up 2-0 just moments later.
Sherman opened the match with five straight points as Dobbs led the way before Denison answered with a 6-0 spurt to take its first lead on Hodge’s kill.
The Lady Bearcats then went back in front with Jones putting down a couple of kills to help the visiting team gain a 13-8 advantage.
It was an eight-point gap (19-11) when the Lady Jackets started to chip away at the deficit. Sherman helped by making a couple of errors and when Denison notched four consecutive points it was down to a 22-19 margin.
Audessa Brown helped the Lady Bearcats weather that finish and they picked up four of the final five points to get the early 1-0 advantage,