Lady Longhorns subdue 'Betsy


star staff


  The Lady Longhorns were overly prepared to weather any kind of a storm coming from Elizabethton, as they turned away the Cyclones in three straight sets.
  Johnson Co. has shown it's stock with girls volleyball sky rocket in the past few seasons.
  On Tuesday, the Longhorns made a quick exit of Elizabethton after jumping out to a huge advantage in the first set.
  "They played well and everybody was aggressive and hit the ball hard, so I couldn't have asked for anything better there," said Johnson Co. coach Michele Cooke. "They are playing well consistently, and if we can do that for three, four, or five games in a row, then that is what we're striving for."
  Johnson Co. enjoyed a 6-2 lead in the early minutes, before going on a rampage and exploding to score the next nine points.
  Ryan Tillman began serving up a dish of aces that were simply too hot to handle.
  "We didn't do as good as we could have last time, so I think we really wanted to show them up this time," said Tillman. "I was really happy to get that many jump serves, for I really haven't had that many opportunities to do it." "Everybody was stepping up today and playing good, for everybody contributed."
  Kills coming from Sarah Wright and Laura Peters around the net put the ending punctuation to the lop-sided contest of a 25-4 final.
  Elizabethton fared a little better in the second set, as they kept pace for the early part of the game.
  A block at the net from Whitney Forbes and score off the serve by Alissa Manz cut into the Longhorns lead of 9-7.
  Another big run just like in game one, Johnson Co. reeled off twelve consecutive scores before giving up the serve.
  It was Amy Shutt serving for the Longhorns, while Wright who led the team in kills with 13 and Katie Nelson making the plays at the net.
  "Everybody was up for today, and we did a lot of talking to each other which really helps," said Wright. "We're definitely improving because when I first came here we didn't talk at all and didn't connect, but now we're working on improving that."
  The second contest ended in a 25-9 final, as the Longhorns found a way once again to mentally break down Elizabethton.
  "Ryan Tillman served the lights out in that first game that we got so demoralized we couldn't pick ourselves up," said Elizabethton coach Leslie Bradley. "You've got to keep fighting through that, and it shouldn't have taken us until the third game to do that."
  In the final set, it appeared Johnson Co. was off to another easy controlled victory.
  The Longhorns grabbed a lead of 8-3, but Elizabethton started to scrap back to gain the advantage halfway through the contest.
  A couple of blocks at the net from Michaela Pietrowski and ace serve by Heather Simpson enabled the Cyclones to take a 15-12 lead.
  It was a scary moment for Johnson Co. then, which wasn't the fact of trailing, but the threat of their star player Tillman crashing hard to the floor.
  Tillman had to set out a few series with very minor damage around her eye, as Brianne Easly came into replace her and fill the gap.
  The Longhorns finished the last set the same way as they had in the other previous two with a huge run at the end to take a 25-17 advantage.
  "They had some girls hit the ball harder than they normally do, because we were sitting over here taking it on our side," said Bradley. "We've got to learn how to have a little more pride and be more mentally tougher than we were."