Lindale assumed the pole position in the District 16-4A volleyball race, using a big night hitting from Zhanelle Geathers to fly by John Tyler 3-1 in Tuesday's showdown at the Lions Den.

Geathers powered Lindale with 17 kills and six blocks to lead the Lady Eagles to a 16-25, 25-19, 25-22, 25-22 win in a matchup of the district's last two unbeatens.

Lindale improved to 4-0 in district, with JT dropping a game back at 3-1. Lindale trailed JT by seven points in the final game before storming back to end the match with a 15-5 run.

Savannah Cantrell (12 kills, 21 serves, six aces) and Travicia Acy (four kills, five blocks) played key roles in the Lindale triumph.

"It was a major game," Lindale coach Meghan Koonce said. "My girls knew JT was tough and wouldn't give up. We had to fight to win. We're looking to win district. That's our goal."

The loss overshadowed a memorable performance by JT senior Erica Franklin, who finished with 17 kills, 25 digs, 20 serves and four aces.

"We were on Erica's back," JT head coach Stephanie March-Smith said. "She kept us in the game."

Ultimately, Lindale's 6-3 junior middle blocker, last year's hitter of the year in the Lady Eagles' former district, proved the difference maker while on the front row.

"She was nailing the ball," March-Smith said of Geathers. "We needed to get as many points as we could while she was out."

Geathers gave Lindale a lift with five kills during the game-ending run. She pulled Lindale even at 20 with an over-the-shoulder kill. Kaitlin Rice recorded an ace to give Lindale the lead for good before Geathers struck for consecutive kills for a three-point cushion.

JT pulled to within one on back-to-back smack-downs from Amicia Williams (15 kills, 19 digs) before a service error set up match point, and Cantrell spiked the ball to end the match.

"She's a big impact hitting-wise and blocking," Koonce said of Geathers. "We love to give her the ball."

Lindale served for eight aces in the final game alone, including four straight to open the set.

"It was cleaning up the mistakes and then getting them focused again," said Koonce, whose team placed 14 aces on the night. "We got back in the game and things started rolling our way."

JT finished with 10 hitting errors and 10 more on serve-receive, five in the final game.

"The little things are what we have to clean up," March-Smith said. "Against a good team they add up."

JT started strong, scoring 10 of the final 13 points to take the opening game, 25-16.

The Lady Lions never trailed the second game until Lindale used a 7-0 run, featuring a pair of aces by Cantrell, to go ahead six points, where the margin stayed.

Geathers sparked Lindale in a tight third set with a kill to set up game point, followed by a block to put the Lady Eagles up 2-1.

"We played a good game, and we could've won the last one," March-Smith said. "But it's okay because we're still learning. They were the better team (Tuesday)."


Lindale 3, John Tyler 1

Lindale      16 25  25  25

John Tyler 25 19  22  22

KILLS LEADERS — L: Zhanelle Geathers, 17; Savannah Cantrell, 8; Travicia Acy, 4; JT: Erica Franklin, 17; Amicia Williams, 15; Donishia Rouege, 6; Kashanti Flowers, 5.

BLOCKS LEADERS — L: Geathers, 6; Acy, 5; JT: Flowers 5, Williams, 2; Breanna Choice, 2; Quaneshia Johnson, 2.

DIGS LEADERS — L: Makenna Allen, 10; Hannah Brown, 7; Sydney Tiiman, 6; JT: Franklin, 25; Williams, 19.

ASSISTS LEADERS — L: Tiiman, 32; JT: Johnson, 40.

ACES LEADERS — L: Cantrell, 21 (6); JT: Franklin, 20 (4), Rouege, 20 (1), Choice, 13.

JV MATCH — Lindale 2, John Tyler 1 (26-24, 11-25, 25-5).

FRESHMEN MATCH — Lindale 2, John Tyler 1.

RECORDS — Lindale 20-9 (4-0); John Tyler 20-13 (3-1).

NEXT UP — Nacogdoches at Lindale, 4: 30 p.m. Friday; John Tyler at Whitehouse, 4:30 p.m. Friday.


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