WALKER – The assist from Reese Patten led to directly to Kameron Bond’s kill and with it came a postgame celebration Walker High’s volleyball team hadn’t experienced in quite some time.
After a trying season a year ago the Lady Cats showed signs of growth, not only rallying from one game down, but did so by reeling off the last two games against parish rival Denham Springs for a 19-25, 25-19, 25-18, 25-20, 15-11 non-district victory Monday at Glenn Ellis Gymnasium.
“Last year we didn’t do too good,” Patten said of a 5-25 record, including a pair of losses to Denham Springs in three games each. “This was a really big win for all of us.
The match, which was played to benefit the Susan G. Komen Foundation, drew a hearty crowd that filled the bleachers behind the two team’s bench area, creating quite an atmosphere for the evening.
“It was a full crowd and that’s awesome,” Walker coach Kaylee Guidry said. “Any team is going to feed off of good energy. We can’t thank our students and fans anymore. They came out and were awesome. There was a team behind our team. It gave them a little extra boost and that’s what you need sometimes when it gets grueling.”
After four games filled with back-and-forth drama, Walker (2-3) jumped out to a 5-0 lead and increased that margin to 9-3 in the finale.
Bond served four points with Patten picking up a pair of kills and the momentum didn’t slow down for the Lady Cats after a net violation against Denham Springs accounted for a six-point lead.
The Lady Jackets (3-4) made one final run, cutting the margin to 14-11, ignited by Sophie Faircloth’s serving – including a pair of aces – when a couple of errors against the Lady Cats made it a three-point game before Patten’s assist to Bond closed out the match.
Patten had six kills and 15 assists, while returning All-Parish performer Anna Ferrand nine kills. Bond added seven kills and 12 assists with Lillie Waguespack adding seven blocks and six kills and Alexis Shirley nine digs.
“I don’t like to talk about last year because it’s a completely different team now,” Guidry said. “Last year we would get to right there and dwindle down. It was, ‘can we win?’ Now it’s more of, ‘hey we’ve got this and I’m going to pick you up if you don’t believe that.’ They’re believing that they can do it.”
It was a disappointing conclusion for Denham Springs which built a 2-1 lead in the match, pulling away in the latter stages in the first and third games to establish momentum.
“I think we played OK, I don’t think we played up to our potential,” said Denham Springs coach Pam Dubuy, whose team hosts Walker on Sept. 18 at 6 p.m. “The missed serves and shanked passes they had, when they shouldn’t have, is what hurt us. We definitely beat ourselves.”
There were nine ties in the opening game when DSHS scored five straight points with Mallory Landry serving, to open a 23-18 lead and finish out the game on Landry’s assist to Faircloth.
Walker answered during a tense second game that featured 13 ties when they outscored DSHS 7-1 with America Collins serving and Patten’s kill off the block to clinch the game.
Landry and Kailey Dunham each had three assists and Dunham and Faircloth two kills apiece during a third game in which DSHS never trailed or was tied.
Walker did get within 14-13, but with Landry serving the Lady Jackets reopened a 18-13 edge and Morgan Claire Smith’s serving made it 23-17 when a pair of errors resulted in a 2-1 lead in the match.
Dunham topped DSHS with 16 assists and seven kills, while Landry had 13 assists, Dunham, Mandolyn Donohue and Smith each added seven kills and Faircloth six.
The Lady Jackets surged to a 4-1 lead in the fourth game when the Lady Cats, with Patten serving, responded and took the lead for good at 12-11 on a net violation. They stretched it to 16-12 on Patten’s ace, held a slim 19-18 margin and was able to square the match at 2-2 on consecutive kills from Waguespack and Collins.
“We talk about the little things and how they add up and we saw that in this game,” Guidry said. “I know belief is a big thing. If they can get through this and beat Denham, an opponent which was a district rival last year, that was a big win.”