SPORTS HEADLINES

Champs sweep away pair

By Richard Greene | Published Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Playing for the first time as defending state champions, the Decatur Lady Eagles showed they are no hurry to give up the crown Tuesday.

The top-ranked Lady Eagles (2-0) brushed aside Azle (1-1) and Joshua (0-2) each in three games in a dual match to open the season. The Lady Eagles dispatched Azle 25-15, 25-19, 25-10. Decatur then closed the afternoon with a 25-14, 25-12, 25-17 victory against Joshua.

Eyes on the Ball

EYES ON THE BALL – Decatur’s Emily Oxford and Caroline Lowery jump for a ball during the Lady Eagles’ win over Azle Tuesday in the season opener. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

It was the Lady Eagles’ first time to play on their home floor since winning the 3A title last November.

“It was good first time out. There are things we still need to work on,” said Cooper Martin, who had 10 kills against Azle and another seven against Joshua.

“Having all our fans that were with us at state here was fun.”

Between the two matches, Decatur piled up 80 kills and hit 191 attempts. The Lady Eagles had just 21 hitting errors in the six games.

Decatur had just 10 hitting errors against Azle, which challenged them at the net with the combination of Hannah Boyd and Hannah Walker.

“It was nice to come out and beat a good team in straight sets,” said Decatur coach Claire Benedict-Gay. “We’re still not tuned up and are still adjusting.

“[Against Azle] we had to work our offense. Stormi [Leonard] has to make different decisions and push our middles to stay involved.”

Leonard doled out 21 assists against Azle and another 23 against Joshua.

Decatur opened the match with a 9-1 run capped by a Makayla Mayfield kill. She put down 11 in the match to go along with 12 digs.

Azle never got closer than seven the remainder of the set.

A pair of Martin kills followed by a Mayfield block put Decatur up 10-6 in the second game. The Lady Eagles continued to add to their lead while defensively thwarting Azle chances. Decatur made 68 digs in the match. Mayfield and Lowery made 12 each.

“This is such a good group of kids. They hate losing more than they like winning,” Benedict-Gay said.

After scoring the six-point win in game two, Decatur closed out Azle quickly in the third game. Mayfield stepped to the service line and served eight straight to build the Decatur lead to 20-9. Lowery put down four kills in the rotation.

Lowery added two more to get the Lady Eagles to match point. The match ended on an Azle error.

Lowery finished with 11 kills.

After a break, Decatur wasted little time finishing off Joshua. Lowery led the charge with 13 of Decatur’s 38 kills.

The Lady Eagles kept Joshua off balance with their serving. Decatur tallied 12 aces, including six from Mayfield and five by Leonard.

“We served well and played well,” Benedict-Gay said. “Our hitters were smart with their decision making on the court.”

The Lady Eagles also played a variety of lineups in the three games.

“We ran three different lineups and got a look at different people,” the Decatur coach said.

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