LONGVIEW – Pleasant Grove made short work of a Class 4A bi-district playoff tilt, sweeping Mabank 25-20, 25-19, 25-22, Tuesday evening at Pine Tree High School.
It seemed that every time Mabank, which ended its season 26-17, thought it might get something going, PG outside hitter Macey Adams pounded some sense into the Lady Panthers. The junior ended the with 16 kill shots, all of them powerful and most of them when the Lady Hawks (26-13) most needed a lift.
The match was the first for roughly half of the young Lady Hawks. If they were nervous, they forgot to show it, consistently beating Mabank at the net and bringing quick ends to any Lady Panther runs.
“We were a little sluggish on some stuff, but it was the first playoff experience for a lot of our players,” said Pleasant Grove coach Amy Collvins. “Now we’ve got it under our belt, so we got the scare out of the way.”
Pleasant Grove will move to an Area Round tilt against Bullard, most likely in Hallsville.
“If we want to make a deep run in the playoffs, we’re going to have to get more consistent, especially on defense,” Collvins said.
The Lady Hawks got off to a quick start in the first set and led from wire to wire.
Senior Madeline Haak started it with a nice put-back at the net. That was followed by a kill shot from senior Britton Anderson off a set by Reagan Franks. A service ace from Adams, followed soon by a pair of aces by Haak had the Hawks up 5-1 before the crowd could settle into its seats.
Mabank got it as close as 14-16, but a kill by Anderson, a block by Natalie Hall, a block by Anderson and a block by Madi Morris, quickly put it out of reach. A few minutes later, Adams drove a shot across the court to seal the set.
Mabank got off to a 5-1 lead in the second set, but two kills from Adams, another from Anderson and a block at the net by Haak had it knotted up at 0. It was tied at 11 when Adams crushed three straight killers through the heart of the Mabank defense to put PG up for good, 14-11.
The lead reached eight when Haak blocked a shot and then smashed the return past two defenders to make it 24-16. A couple of minutes later, a killer shot by Morris had PG up, 2-0.
The third set was the closest. It was tied six times, including at 18, when Morris blocked a shot and Adams got a perfect set from Allison Michaelis and set a shot rocketing across the court. The Hawks never gave back the lead and Anderson soon brought the evening to a close with cannon shot that angled through the Lady Panthers.
By Bill Owney
Link to Class 4A state volleyball tournament here: