Seven Lakes used a steady diet of aggressive serving from junior Peyton Sykes and stellar outside hitting from junior Ally Batenhorst to sweep Fort Bend Austin, 25-13, 25-16, 25-12, in their Class 6A bi-district volleyball playoff game Tuesday, Nov. 5, at the Merrell Center.
The effort took the Spartans (26-17) only about 70 minutes as they weren’t seriously challenged by the Bulldogs for most of the match. Austin only had two leads across three sets, both times by a single point, and Seven Lakes consistently held 5-15-point leads.
While the 6-foot-4 Batenhorst is a well-known commodity for the Spartans and led them with 22 kills, the opening set showed off the sharp serves of Sykes as well. She finished with eight aces and constantly kept the Bulldogs off-balance.
Poor returns on her serves led to easy kills for Batenhorst.
“I was just looking for the zones that my coach told me to serve, and trying to hit them,” Sykes said. “In practice, we work a lot on serving and being consistent with our serves, not missing, because in past games we’ve had trouble. But this game was a lot better, and our energy was great.”
The power of her serve showed in lopsided runs for the Spartans.
With Sykes starting the first set off, Seven Lakes scored six straight points, and she was serving during a four-point run to close out the first set. Sykes had back-to-back aces in the second set, and she was serving again during a nine-point run by the Spartans to put the third set away.
“She is our most aggressive server,” Seven Lakes coach Amy Cataline said. “She can serve over 40 miles per hour consistently.”
Cataline said the team played cohesively against the Bulldogs, who minimized errors.
“We can sometimes get plagued with unforced errors,” she said. “I think we did a really good job at rebounding.”
The Spartans only had 16 errors, but mostly because they were constantly on the attack. Sophomore Casey Batenhorst was the main setter for her older sister, but she had four kills of her own, using surprise attacks on the second ball.
“She did a really good job at moving the ball around and playing at a faster tempo,” Cataline said. “She’s a smart setter and she does a great job feeding our hitters.”
Junior Mayo Olibale, and seniors Nylissa Snagg and Gabrielle Collins took strikes when the Spartans went away from Ally Batenhorst. The trio combined for seven kills.
Seven Lakes advanced to the area round of the playoffs later this week. The Spartans will play District 17-6A champ Cy-Fair. Cy-Fair swept Lamar in its bi-district game.