LUFKIN — Despite a barrage of kills from Rusk's front line, the Lady Eagles' 3-0 (25-23, 25-16, 25-12) victory over Jasper on Tuesday evening truly was a total-team effort.
The Class 4A, Region III Bi-district match took place at Panther Gymnasium in Lufkin.
The Lady Eagles (18-13), who finished third in District 19-4A, will move on to face Midlothian Heritage later this week in the Area round.
Heritage topped Waco Robinson 3-0 in its bi-district outing.
Rusk senior- middle Jamyah Anderson led all players with 17 kills, sophomore Kaycee Johnson delivered 10 spikes and senior Grace Young racked up seven kills for Rusk.
“This was a nice win for us,” Rush head volleyball coach Billie Walley said. “I had a lot of confidence in our execution because we were getting good results from all over the court. We didn't have any weak spots out there. Lots of kids contributed to the win for us.”
The Lady Bulldogs (26-10), representing District 20-4A as its runner-up, played Rusk on even terms in the first set, which featured seven lead changes.
A Young kill from the left side that put Rusk in front 15-14 ended up giving the Lady Eagles the lead for good; although the Lady Bulldogs fought back late in the set to get to within a point of the Lady Eagles.
Rusk kept its foot on the gas to win Game 2 by nine points.
“Winning the second game was huge,” Walley said. “At times this year we have not played our best in the second game, so it was good to see that intensity.”
After a couple unforced miscues by Jasper, which capped off an 8-3 spurt, Rusk moved out to an 11-7 advantage and never looked back.
The Lady Eagles finished up by scoring the last four points in the set, three of which came from Johnson (a kill past the Jasper back row, a cut shot and a spike driven down the side line), plus a service ace by senior Jaylei Wick.
“Kaycee (Johnson) is my sophomore who has learned how to hit,” Walley said. “She has been on varsity for two seasons and has is getting better and better.”
The Lady Bulldogs didn't offer much resistances in the final game, which was highlighted by a 7-1 Rusk run that came with senior Haley Hancock at the service line. Hancock, the Lady Eagle setter, had a kill and three aces.
Rusk's final two points of the game came on pair of Anderson kills.
“Jamyah (Anderson) played very well for us and they (Jasper) had a hard time trying to stop her,” Walley said.
Amia Porter had four kills and four aces for the Lady Bulldogs.