Lady Panthers block all others to win the Denison tourney

By Griff Servati
For the Van Alstyne Leader
The Lady Panthers celebrate their Denison Tournament Championship. Back row (L-R) Coach Kelly Hutchinson, Maci Densore, Lydia Carroll, Sammy Moore, Jaidan Servati, Jadyn Cranford, Riley Ross, and Hannah Hemphill. Front Row (L-R) Abby Lange, Lanie Thorpe, Lacey Thorpe, Kaelyn Miller.

The Van Alstyne Lady Panthers won the Denison Tournament this past weekend. The win could be viewed as "the best of Grayson County" as Sherman was the only county school that didn't enter the tournament. The Lady Panthers defeated Frisco Leadership, Denison, Tioga, Pottsboro, and Callisburg to capture the championship.

The Lady Panthers dropped the first game in matchups against Denison and Pottsboro but would win the next two games against each opponent. In both games, they helped the opponent by scoring points by their own mistakes; once they settled down on their side of the court, they cruised to victories. Against Denison, the Lady Panthers lost the first by 20-25 but then won in dominating fashion 25-11 and 25-14.

Jaidan Servati holds up the championship trophy in the team huddle.
Jadyn Cranford and Sammy Moore team up to block at the net.

In the title game against a much taller Callisburg team, the Lady Panthers were the ones to dominate at the net. Lady Panther's front row dominated in blocks, especially in the second match; leading the block party were Sammy Moore, Jaidan Servati, Jadyn Cranford, and Lydia Carroll. Sammy Moore was her usual dominating presence at the Middle Attacker position with her powerful kills. Sophomores Maci Densmore and Riley Ross added important kills from their outside hitter position. One of the kills from Riley Ross brought out extra excitement from her teammates, which is saying a lot for volleyball when each point is celebrated, her teammates leaping off the bench in excitement as she hit the ball down with great force to earn a kill. The opening game was a close match, with the Lady Panthers leading by two points until Abby Lange stepped up to serve. The lead was 20-19 when Lange served three straight aces to turn the tide to the Lady Panthers.

aidan Servati blocks at the net in the Callisburg game at the Denison Tournament.
Maci Densmore hits around the Callisburg block for a kill.

The Lady Panthers week also included a Tuesday night win at 6A Garland Naaman Forest. The Lady Panthers dropped the first game but then rallied to win three straight sets on the road. But during the fourth game, senior Middle Attacker Hannah Hemphill came down on an opponent's foot that had crossed under the net. She rolled to the ground in pain and has what has been determined to be a hairline fracture. She was out of the tournament play in Denison. As the Lady Panthers lost Hemphill to injury for the tournament, senior McKenna Jensen returned to action on the back row for the team.

The Lady Panthers' upcoming schedule includes a home game against Denton Ryan on August 24th and the season's final tournament at Argyle this weekend.

Lydia Carroll hits between the Callisburg block for a kill.
Sammy Moore blocks at the middle position.