MIDLOTHIAN — With homecoming festivities ramping up in advance of the Panther football game a few miles away, the Midlothian volleyball team was locked into a five-set thriller against Red Oak.
The drama waned by the fifth and deciding set, though, as the Lady Hawks took the District 10-5A opener from the Lady Panthers on their home court, 26-24, 14-25, 18-25, 25-17, 15-8.
Samantha Rodgers led the Lady Panthers with 12 kills, while Sydney Little added 11 and Aryn Walton seven. Rogers also led the Lady Panthers with seven blocks. The match was held Friday, Sept. 8 in the gymnasium at Midlothian High School.
Both Kelly Buchanan and Little accounted for 24 digs while Kamryn Owen led the way with her game-high 41 assists.
Midlothian jumped out to a 5-0 lead in set three with the match tied at one until a Serna Patterson kill put the Lady Hawks on the board. A few serves later a huge Hailey Hunt block had the Lady Hawks within two, 7-5.
Midlothian countered with a quick 3-0 run capped by a Tara Groden ace for a 10-5 lead. The Lady Panther run continued, building to a 13-6 advantage.
Midlothian and Red Oak traded blows over the next several serves, and the Lady Panthers held the same seven-point lead, 20-13. A long rally highlighted by diving bodies on both sides ended with Kelby Buchanan finding a soft spot down the left side of the Red Oak defense for a 22-16 Midlothian lead and firm control of the momentum.
Back to back Sydney Little kills sealed the swing set for the Lady Panthers 25-18.
Red Oak tallied the first two points in the fourth set, but Midlothian remained composed and soon flipped the lead in its favor, 8-6. Three consecutive Lady Hawk points, including an Emily North ace followed by a Red Oak error, tied the game at 9. Kamryn Owen then rifled home an ace off of Kylie Bryan to put Midlothian back on top, 10-9.
Out of a Red Oak timeout, the Lady Hawks reeled off five consecutive points for a 14-11 lead capped by Samantha Rodgers being called for crossing midcourt. The run ended on the ensuing serve with a Lady Hawk hitting error.
Red Oak, however, was not finished streaking. Behind a couple of blocks by Hunt, two Katie Hess kills and kill from Kennedy Wiley, Red Oak was the first to 20 and held a 23-13 lead sooner after.
A service error and North roll to the Midlothian middle gave Red Oak the 25-17 win in the fourth set.
After jumping out to a 2-0 lead, Hess went to the floor for a back-row dig, Bryan followed by sliding on her knee pads to the front for a second dig, and Wiley sent a kill off of a Midlothian block for a 3-0 Red Oak advantage.
The lead ballooned to 9-1 with the Lady Hawks seemingly placing shots anywhere they pleased.
Midlothian had a little fight left, however. After piecing together a mini run, Hunt fired home a kill for a 13-7 lead. North dumped a point over to push to match point and Wiley sent home the match winner.
The Lady Panthers returned to the court Tuesday, Sept. 12 with a three-set sweep of Lancaster, 25-13, 25-16, 25-12.
Little recorded a team-high 15 kills and matched Buchanan with 17 digs. Owen provided the Lady Panthers with 37 assists.
Midlothian (18-10, 1-1) will play (12-11, 0-1) Mansfield Summit at Summit High School on Friday, Sept. 15. The first serve is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.