Travis outlasts Dulles in five-set battle

Travis outside hitter Madysin Leighton and freshman middle blocker Ryan Williams go up for a block of Dulles outside hitter Taylor Ratliff’s swing during Tuesday night’s match at Tiger Gym.

The Travis volleyball team has been shaky for most of the early part of the season. But the Lady Tigers are putting it all together for some close wins to start district play.

Travis pulled out a five-set thriller at home against Dulles to move to 2-0 in District 20-6A play. The Lady Tigers won 13-25, 25-15, 14-25, 27-25, 17-15.

“We’re just trying to be more consistent and not make errors to give points to the other team,” Travis head coach Nicole Hitt said. “The good thing is that they’re showing heart and fighting hard, and I would just like it to be a little more clean.”

Both teams entered the match with mostly young players carrying the load. Dulles freshman outside hitter Kylie Mueller came out aggressive in the first set, as she got three kills and a block to help the Lady Vikings jump out to a 19-10 lead in the first set. Travis struggled with its hitting with several errors to lose the first set, 25-13.

But the younger Travis players began to step up as freshman outside hitter Ryan Williams got three kills to help the Lady Tigers get a 13-6 lead that grew to 20-10. A block by Williams and a kill by junior outside hitter Karina Garoni sealed the 25-15 win to even the match at one apiece.

Travis took an early 8-6 lead in the third set, but Dulles then went on a 10-0 run, as Mueller had two kills and two aces to put the Lady Vikings up 16-8. Mueller would get three more kills in the set to help Dulles get a 25-14 win.

Then the match got tighter in the fourth set, as Travis scored seven points in a row on back-to-back Garoni aces to take a 17-13 lead. But Dulles scored five points on its own to take a one-point lead. The set then became a back-and-forth affair, with Travis fending off a match point for Dulles with a big kill from sophomore middle blocker Taylor Glendening. Two hitting errors by Dulles gave Travis the 27-25 win to force the fifth set.

“We finally got some big hits. We struggled with hitting errors early on and when we started to put the ball down, everything kind of came together,” Hitt said.

Garoni and senior outside hitter Madysin Leighton each had 11 kills to lead Travis, with Williams and Glendening adding nine each. Garoni also had three aces while Williams had four blocks, joined by Leighton and Glendening with three each.

Junior setter Kyla Lilly had 28 assists and 16 digs, while junior defensive specialist Isabella De Leon had 23 digs.

Travis (15-11, 2-0) will continue 20-6A play on Friday with a trip to Austin High School at 6:30 p.m.

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