By Kyle Roberts
RUSTON – It took four sets for Ruston to send Airline back to Bossier Thursday night after an exciting third set that saw a near-impossible Lady Bearcat rally that came up just short of a sweep of the Lady Vikings.
The final scores were 25-15, 25-22, 26-28, and 25-7 in favor of Ruston.
“I’m pleased with the outcome,” Ruston High head coach Mandy Cauley said. “I thought we started off super strong. We were executing so well in sets one and set two, but then we started making errors at the service line. Those errors at the service line cost us set three– every time we would get momentum back. We just weren’t mentally tough today. There’s days like that.
“We recovered for set four and looked really good. We put an exclamation point on it and they did a great job.”
Ruston opened the first set 5-0 with junior Harper Cauley serving and notching both an ace and kill during the run. Airline would answer with a 4-0 run of their own before Ruston extended the lead back to 8-4. Both teams would utilize runs the rest of the way through the set before Ruston pulled away to win 25-15.
Freshman Baylor Cauley would finish the set with two aces and a block, while Harper Cauley and senior Cala Wilson totaled two kills apiece.
In the second set, Ruston struggled serving with multiple run-stopping errors. Despite building an early lead, Airline would not be able to match Ruston’s scoring as the Lady Bearcats won 25-22.
Harper Cauley would tally four kills and one block, while senior Hannah Rollins tallied four kills, as well, in the second stanza.
Ruston would get off to another slow start in the third set due in part to service errors and trailed 10-4 before head coach Cauley called a time out to settle her squad down. The Lady Bearcats battled all the way to finally take the lead 24-23 with a block from both Harper Cauley and senior Shelby Freeman. After a back and forth battle, Airline would pull away for the win.
Harper Cauley would finish with five kills in the third, while Rollins finished with three.
The Lady Bearcats would storm out of the gate in set four with an 11-0 run thanks to Harper Cauley’s serving. The set was never close, and Ruston would win 25-7.
“Harper is our first server, and she did exactly what I asked,” Cauley said. “I’m extremely proud of how she played tonight. She’s gritty and she wants to win. It was effective tonight.”
Rollins led the team with 12 kills and four blocks on the night, while Harper Cauley totaled 11 kills and three blocks.
Senior middle Jade Smith did not play due to illness, with senior Cala Wilson taking over her spot on the night en route to six kills.
Baylor Cauley finished with 21 assists and 11 digs.
Ruston returns to action with another weekend road trip, first to Episcopal School of Acadiana today and then at Central-Baton Rouge Saturday.