By Richard Nelson
The Diboll Lady Jacks overcame uncharacteristic play in Game 1 of their Area-round match Thursday night against Liberty at Livingston High School and won the next three games to claim the Area title.
Final scores were 14-25, 32-30, 25-23, 25-17.
The Lady Jacks will play the Region III quarterfinal match Tuesday against Huffman-Hargrave, which defeated Silsbee. Time and location have not been announced. Hargrave’s game scores were 17-25, 25-22, 25-17, 25-18.
Diboll lost 14-25 in Game 1, due in large part to a seven-point Liberty run that pushed the score from 11-9 to 18-9. From there, Diboll got nothing going, even into the second game.
It looked like it might be more of the same in Game 2, with Liberty leading 5-2, 8-3, 10-5 and 14-9 before Diboll finally started playing like, well, Diboll.
A smart dink by Mya Ward gave the Lady Jacks a point and put the ball in Leslie Medina’s hands. She helped Diboll close the gap to 12-14, with her second point coming on an ace.
The teams traded points from there, until a Liberty service error moved the score to 22-24, and Arianna Garza served the Lady Jacks to a tie. Medina had a dig crawl over the net for a point, and a Liberty hitting error tied the game at 24.
Two more Liberty errors helped Diboll take its first lead, 27-26, since 2-1 in Game 1.
A Ward and Mia Williams double block put the Lady Jacks out front 29-28, but a Diboll hitting error and a Liberty kill put Liberty up 30-29.
A Liberty net violation tied it at 30. Then, with Medina at the service line, Williams dinked Diboll to game point and a Liberty hitting error gave Diboll the win in Game 2.
The win helped swing the momentum of the match to Diboll’s favor, and the Lady Jacks took leads of 6-1 and 10-5 early in Game 3.
Liberty managed to tie the game at 15, but Diboll went on a four-point run to take a 20-16 lead. On the run, Morgan Chandler scored on a nice cross shot, and then Williams served three points with the benefit of three Liberty errors. Diboll made it 22-20 with a Nia Mitchell kill and an Ashtyn Alvarez roll shot to the back line.
The Lady Panthers did tie it at 22 with two consecutive kills, but Mitchell recorded a kill and Williams had a big block to get the Lady Jacks to game point. Williams then hit a line shot to finish off Game 3.
Liberty took a 5-2 lead in Game 4, the last three points coming via a kill between the block, a kill off the block and a kill over the block.
Diboll answered back with a Chandler kill, followed by a Mitchell block.
The Lady Jacks found themselves down 10-9 when Mitchell went to work from the service line. Williams recorded two kills and Mitchell served an ace on run that put Diboll up for good, 14-10.
Diboll outscored the Lady Panthers down the stretch, with Mitchell contributing two kills and Mitchell contributing a block and three kills, including the match-winner.
“We started off really slow; we weren’t playing like we usually do,” said Williams, a senior. “But, I never thought we were going to lose. I said, “No, we aren’t going home (early).”
Williams finished with 16 kills, 3 blocks, a block assist, 6 digs, an ace and 12 assists.
Mitchell, a sophomore, came through with some clutch kills and blocks throughout the night. She finished with 14 kills, 2 blocks, 5 digs, an ace and 13 assists.
“The intensity of the game changed after the first game,” Mitchell said. “After we came back in the second game, you could feel it.”
Other Diboll players’ statistics:
Ward, 3 assists, 5 kills, 1 block, 1 block assists; Chandler, 1 assists, 5 kills, 3 blocks, 3 digs; Ariana Compean, 1 ace, 11 receptions, 5 digs; Garza, 1 kills, 3 receptions, 5 digs; Dessity DeJesus, 2 receptions, 5 receptions, 6 digs; Alexis Grimaldo, 1 assist, 9 receptions, 7 digs; Median, 1 ace, 12 receptions, 13 digs; Ashtyn Alvarez, 1 assist, 3 kills.