BATON ROUGE – It’s game on for the chance at the District 4-II volleyball championship.
Live Oak overcame a first-set loss Monday with Woodlawn to register a 24-26, 25-12, 25-23, 25-23 victory over the Lady Panthers.
“She wanted us to focus on one point at a time, one game at a time,” Live Oak senior outside hitter Olivia Betz said of her coach Chastity Sims. “I think we were a little nervous with Lee (High) coming up, having to win this one to get to that one. If we didn’t win this one, then the other one didn’t mean anything.”
Live Oak (17-9 overall, 9-1) hosts league-leading Lee High at 6 p.m. Wednesday with the opportunity to gain a share of the district lead.
“We’re ready for it,” said Betz, whose team was swept by the Lady Patriots 3-0 on Sept. 24. “I think it’s going to be a lot better. It’s an advantage to be at home. It’s our senior year. We’re pumped.”
Live Oak took an indirect path to that match, immediately falling behind in the opening set to Woodlawn 7-1 and 12-2, forcing Sims to burn two timeouts to try and stop the Lady Panthers’ momentum.
“It was totally lack of focus,” Sims said. “It’s homecoming week. We have all kinds of activities going on at school and it’s a lack of focus all over the board.”
Behind the play of Betz at the net, who had four of her 14 kills, Live Oak rallied for a 24-23 lead following a long serve from Woodlawn (11-11, 6-4).
With a chance to close out the first set, the Lady Panthers scored the final three points, taking advantage of a pair of Live Oak errors, but it was the Lady Eagles who seemed to carry over their mid-set momentum into the second set.
After eight ties, a kill from Jamie Elenbaas provided Live Oak with the lead for good at 9-8, slowly opening a 23-11 advantage, the last points coming on Camryn Gerage’s service.
Elenbaas set Betz for a kill and Woodlawn was unable to return Sophia Foster’s serve, resulting in a 1-1 tie in the match.
“It didn’t look like we were even playing as a team,” said Betz, who added six digs and four aces. “We started talking and communicating more. That helped us. We fixed the little mistakes and that helped us.”
A net violation against Woodlawn and a block from Foster gave Live Oak an early 3-1 edge, one the Lady Eagles never relinquished. Reserve Kate Campbell, who replaced an injured Lara Cartwright in the second set, served five points to make it 14-4 on Gabby Gaines’ kill.
Libero Savannah Noble served five points with Elenbaas setting Gerage and Foster for kills, respectively, and Noble added one of her four aces that contributed to a comfortable 25-13 win following Gaines’ kill.
Foster followed Betz with 10 kills, five aces, four digs and three blocks.
Woodlawn responded to go back and forth with Live Oak, forcing a total of five ties when Gerage’s tip at the net gave the Lady Eagles a 13-12 lead.
Live Oak’s lead never hovered above three points when Woodlawn rallied for two more ties when Elenbaas’ push shot broke a 23-all deadlock and the Lady Eagles wrapped up the match on an assist from Elenbaas – her 44th – to Foster for a kill.
Elenbaas also had seven kills and five digs, and Gerage five kills, seven aces and seven digs.
“It was a lack of focus and lack of communication,” Sims said. “They made their adjustments and pulled through.”