Guarding home: Brook Hill advances in volleyball playoffs

Brook Hill's Abigail Baker celebrates a point during the Lady Guard's playoff win over Carrollton Christian on Thursday in Bullard. (John Murphy | Correspondent)

BULLARD — The Bullard Brook Hill record-setting volleyball team took awhile to wake up, eventually winning in the fifth game, beating Carrollton Christian Academy in TAPPS Division III bi-district action Thursday at the Herrington Sports Complex.

Unbeaten through district play, Brook Hill finally began a big turnaround midway through the third game, after dropping the first two games 25-22 and 25-23 to the Lady Saints.

"Everybody was looking at each other on the bench like where did we learn how to play like this?" Lady Guard middle blocker Samantha Anderson said.

The sophomore and teammates hung in to take the final three games, 27-25, 25-14 and 15-4.

Carrollton Christian was not without firepower after a fourth-place finish in its district, sporting a future Baylor Lady Bear, Tola Itiola. Alone she kept Brook Hill off-guard in the beginning with 16 kills, six digs, five blocks and two aces at service.

Teammate Debra Jo Fair-child led the game in assists with 30 for the Lady Saints (14-13).

Even when Brook Hill turned it around, the Lady Saints made Brook hill earn it with an extended 27-25 win in the third game.

Eden made a five-point service run to turn a 3-9 deficit into a 9-9 tie, the first of six ties and three lead changes as the game played out.

The fourth game featured 10 ties and six lead changes before freshman Charlie Niles served out the final points for a 25-14 Brook Hill win to force the deciding game. Baylee Rozell fought through sickness all night and made a huge dive-point service run in the fourth game to build a 19-9 advantage.

Niles was a vital cog throughout with five kills, two blocks and two separate service runs in the turnaround.

"The girls just really pulled together and never gave up," said Lady Guard head coach Joanna Rathbun, in her first season at BH. "But we are more like a family than a team and we nearly let it get away, but we made the team plays we needed to get going and by the fifth game, we were finally playing our game."

Anderson led the Lady Guard at the net with 16 kills and three blocks, while Eden made nine kills and seven assists, plus pounded down the winning point in Game 5 for the win.

Lady Guard libero Abigail Baker added five digs and eight assists, while Rozell made three kills, but set the floor with 24 assists and eight digs.

The Lady Guard (22-4) advance to play the winner between Richardson-Canyon Creek and Irving-The Highlands in the area round.

"We have a great group of girls that believe in God and each other and we prayed all night for Baylee to be able to make it and she came through in some really big spots for us, and was a difference maker," Rathbun.

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