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Senior hitters lead Lady Lions to home-opening win

Posted: August 21, 2012 - 10:08pm  |  Updated: August 22, 2012 - 12:43am
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Trinity Christian's volleyball players, including Erin Hagood (14), Maegan Conroy (10) and Morgan Prince (3), celebrate during their win against Odessa Permian in their home opener on Tuesday. Conroy had 10 kills, tying Meredith Henson, shown below, for the team lead.  Stephen Spillman
Stephen Spillman
Trinity Christian's volleyball players, including Erin Hagood (14), Maegan Conroy (10) and Morgan Prince (3), celebrate during their win against Odessa Permian in their home opener on Tuesday. Conroy had 10 kills, tying Meredith Henson, shown below, for the team lead.

Trinity Christian’s big guns came out early Tuesday night in the form of outside hitters Maegan Conroy and Meredith Henson, and the Lady Lions cruised to a 3-1 victory against visiting Odessa Permian.

Conroy and Henson had 10 kills apiece in the win (25-11, 25-13, 16-20, 25-20), using their lengthy frames to power kills past the overmatched Panthers in the Trinity Christian’s home opener.

After starting the game hot, the Lady Lions also rose to the occasion to finish the match after dropping the third set.

“Our outside hitters are both seniors,” Trinity Christian coach Tyler Neal said. “They’re big hitters. They’re experienced. They’re the strength of our offense, and so if we can get them going and they can get hot, then it’s going to be easy for us to side out and score points pretty easily.”

The Lady Lions did, in fact, make it look easy in the first two sets, soundly beating Permian by double digits each game.

Henson and Conroy overpowered shots past the Panthers (4-3), getting set up consistently on the wings by senior setter Erin Hagood, who finished with 20 assists, and sophomore Morgan Prince, who tallied 12 assists and eight kills.

“I think we just stayed really relaxed and focused,” Conroy said of the fast start, “and we knew what we were doing. So we just trusted our system and we did what we had to do.”

After the first two sets, the Panthers (4-4) came roaring back and caught the Lady Lions off guard with a nine-point win, 25-16, setting up a pivotal fourth set.

The Panthers starting laying off some of the Lady Lion hits that wound up out of bounds, and Trinity Christian struggled to string together more than a couple of points in a row.

Permian coach Gillian Danley said the team wasn’t ready for the first two sets, and she made several switches to the rotation before the third set.

“Some girls weren’t on, so I brought some of the girls off the bench and they did a good job,” said Danley, whose Panthers open District 2-5A play next week against Amarillo Tascosa. “We talk all the time about doing their job, and when they get in and they did their job, I kept those girls in.”

Conroy said the players were focusing too much on the unforced errors the Lady Lions started committing instead of rebooting for the next play.

The Panthers easily took the set, and Neal said his players might have thought the set was going to be just as easy as the first two.

The fourth and final set was largely a back-an-forth affair when Conroy stepped in with the Lady Lions trailing 20-19.

Conroy had already had four aces, and knew she could put the game away with some solid serving.

“I knew where I was going to serve it, and I knew I was going to get an ace if I wanted it,” said Conroy, who served the rest of the game as Trinity Christian took the final set 25-20.

Conroy finished with six aces and nine digs, while Henson also chipped in four digs. Sophomore Breklyn Wentz led the defensive effort with a dozen digs.

Trinity Christian plays this weekend in the Fort Worth Christian Preseason Invitational Tournament. The Lady Lions don’t begin district play until the second week of September.

“We really wanted a challenge tonight,” Neal said, “and I’m glad Odessa really gave us a challenge because that’s what we need to get better at is responding when teams push us back. How can we then respond and fight back? And we did.”

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