By Richard Greene
With the Decatur Lady Eagles on the verge of clinching a second straight area crown Thursday, the ball came to Kortney Tompkins near the net.
For the second straight year, the outside hitter slammed the ball past defenders to seal the victory and send the Lady Eagles (38-5) back to the Class 3A Region I quarterfinal.
Tompkins’ kill closed a 25-10, 25-9, 25-21 victory over the Burkburnett Lady Bulldogs in Henrietta.
“I wish it would have been sooner,” said the senior Tompkins, who led Decatur with 12 kills, about the closing hit. “We’re ready for [the regional quarterfinal]. We’re going out without a bang.”
For the second straight season, Decatur will face Abilene Wylie with a spot in the Class 3A Region I tournament on the line. The two will meet Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in Graham.
Decatur coach Claire Rose said her team will need a cleaner and more complete game Tuesday to knock off Wylie, ranked seventh in the latest 3A Texas Girls Coaches Association poll. Decatur was 10th.
“Their expectations are much farther than this match,” Rose said. “We softened up throughout the match and that will cost us. The competition is much better from here on out. Mentally we have to step it up.”
Through the first two games, the Lady Eagles appeared at the top of their game with precision passing and dominating play at the net. Middle blocker Annelise Carpenter had two of her four blocks for kills in the first two sets. She also put down five of her six kills in game one.
“When she’s getting there, she’s going to block and hit well,” Rose said.
Decatur setter Joey Redwine set up kills for six different hitters in the first two games after getting near-perfect passes from the back row. Redwine had 21 assists to go along with six kills and two blocks for kills.
The Lady Eagles scored the first four points of match and quickly built a double-digit lead of 13-3 on a Carpenter kill.
“We were ready to play,” Tompkins said. “We’ve been waiting for this for a while.”
Redwine tipped the ball to an open spot on the floor to close out a 15-point win in game one.
Burkburnett stayed within four points early in game two until Caroline Lowery slammed down one of her three kills to push the lead to five, 13-8. Lowery’s swing started a 13-1 run for to close out the game. Redwine ended the game with her second ace in six serves.
Up by two games, Decatur struggled to shake free of Burkburnett in the third set. It was a one-point game at 16-15 before the Lady Eagles went on a 6-1 rally capped by a Redwine block for a kill. Burkburnett closed back within three, 24-21, before Tompkins put the finishing touches on the program’s second area title.