Jacksonville Daily Progress
Rusk and Jacksonville entered Tuesday's non-district match at the JHS Gymnasium coming off of weekend successes that saw the Lady Eagles win the Lady Lobo Classic's silver bracket while the Fight'n Maidens earned their first-two triumphs of the season when they stopped Grapeland and Lovelady in the Grapeland Tournament.
Rusk rolled out a formidable and balanced offensive attack that the Maidens had difficulty in stopping and as a result the Lady Eagles were able to capture a 3-0 (25-18, 25-9, 25-20) victory over Jacksonville.
Shayla Townsend led Rusk with eight kills, Emily Price swatted down a half dozen kills while Kelsey Blankinship and Chelsie Daniels added four spikes each.
In the opening set the Maidens (2-4) took an early 3-2 following a service ace by Kelley Crosby.
After a period of even play, Rusk took the lead for good, 7-6, after a Price cut shot from the center.
In Game 2, Gabby Willis' back line skills were the focal point of the match as the Lady Eagles dominated their hosts.
After the Maidens took a 2-0 edge, netting points on an ace by Sammy Sandavol and getting a spike from the left side from Gentry Hammons, Rusk went on a 17-1 run with Willis serving 16-straight points, including six service aces from the back line. Willis ended the night with a match-best seven aces.
The final set was the most competitive of the evening as the 450 or so vocal fans in attendance saw the game tied at eight different points until the Lady Eagles took what turned out to be the lead for good when Price blasted a kill off a Maiden defender that made the score 18-17 in favor of the visitors.
From that point on neither team could build more than a three-point advantage.
Up 22-20, Rusk ended the match by getting back-to-back spikes from Blankinship plus a Townsend power cut that accounted for the Lady Eagles' 25th and final point.
Leading Jacksonville were Hammons, Sandoval and Jantzen Terry with two kills each.
Crosby had an ace while Beatrice Romero picked up a kill and a block.
Tournament action continues on Thursday and Saturday for both clubs.
The Maidens will be taking part in the Eustace Tournament, while the Lady Eagles will be entered in the Marshall/ETBU Tournament.
SUB-VARSITY: Rusk 2, Jacksonville 1 (junior varsity)...Rusk 2, Jacksonville 0 (9th grade)...The Rusk frosh, coached by Shane Smelley, are 2-0 on the year...The Lady Eagle 9th graders have carved out a 57-3 docket over the past two seasons.