On Sept. 11, the Ruston Lady Bearcats defeated the Airline Lady Vikings in a five-set thriller at Airline. On Thursday, the Lady Vikings returned the favor, avenging that loss with a dramatic five-set victory at Ruston.
Airline won the first set 25-23 and lost the second 26-24. The Lady Vikings went up two sets to one with a 25-14 victory in the third. Ruston pulled out the fourth 27-25, forcing a decisive fifth set.
The Lady Vikings rallied from a 9-2 deficit in the fifth to win 16-14 and take the match. In the earlier meeting, the Lady Bearcats won the fifth 17-15 after Airline had a match point,
Airline, which was No. 13 in the latest Division I power rankings, improved to 17-8 overall and 6-1 in district. Ruston, No. 6 in the power rankings, dropped to 21-6 and 5-1.
The Lady Vikings have won seven straight.
While both teams have several more district games left, based on play in District 1-I so far there’s a good chance they could end up as co-champs.
Airline’s Gabby Patronis and Brooklyn Brandon posted their first career double-doubles.
Patronis had 11 kills and 18 digs to go with two aces, two blocks and two assists.
Brandon had 10 kills. The final one in the fifth set ended the match. She also had 22 digs and two aces.
Zahria Lloyd’s serving was one key to Airline’s rally in the fifth, coach Regina Digilormo said. She had 24 assists to go with two aces, six kills and 11 digs.
Tori Ligman’s 29 digs gave the Lady Vikings opportunities to win many points.
Digilormo was particularly pleased with the play of Paisley Zika, who had seven blocks, five kills and four digs.
“All those girls had stellar nights,” Digilormo said.
The defending champion Haughton Lady Bucs remained undefeated in District 1-II with victories Wednesday and Thursday.
Haughton defeated Huntington 25-5, 25-11, 25-12 at Huntington and Northwood 25-11, 25-22, 25-20 at home.
The Lady Bucs, who have won five in a row, improved to 15-11 overall and 6-0 in district.
In a non-district game, Benton fell to Loyola College Prep in straight sets at Benton.
— Featured photo courtesy Kelly Brandon via Regina Digilormo