HAMILTON – The Hamilton Lady Lions rebounded after their first loss of the season to defeat county rival Hatley 3-1 last Tuesday night.

Hatley came back late in the first set to clinch a 25-22 set win, then Hamilton took the next two sets by big margins, 25-9 and 25-8. The Lady Lions closed out a back-and-forth fourth set with a 28-26 victory.

“We had our heads hanging down after we lost our first game of the year to Itawamba, so we were dragging coming into this game,” Hamilton coach Bryan Loague said. “Losing that first set was like a much needed wake-up call for us.”

A kill by Madison Mitchell and an ace from Mallory Kendall got things started for the Lady Lions in the first set. Hamilton jumped out to a 10-6 lead after a block from Mollie Cockerham and an ace from Melba Jones.

The Lady Lions extended their lead to seven points midway through the set after kills by Lann Hollis, Mitchell and Jones. A pair of kills from Emma Rose Thompson and Kenlee Wilkinson gave Hatley some momentum as the Lady Tigers went on a run to cut the lead down to two points late in the set.

The Lady Tigers tied it up at 21-21 on a kill from Jessie McHenry and an ace from Wilkinson helped Hatley capture their first lead of the set. Thompson’s kill sealed the first set comeback victory for the Lady Tigers.

The Lady Lions pulled away from Hatley early in the second set, taking a 7-1 lead on back-to-back aces from Mitchell. A kill from Jones and an ace from Faith Imel added to Hamilton’s lead to start the set.

A block at the net and ace from Hatley’s Madison Mitchell trimmed the lead down to seven, but the Lady Lions quickly extended their lead to double digits with kills from Laney Harrington and Mitchell. Hamilton closed out the second set after a kill from Harrington.

Both teams traded the lead to start the third set. Hatley went up 4-2 on an ace from Chloe Wilbanks, but Hamilton wasted no time tying the game up with a kill from Hollis.

A kill and a block from Cockerham gave the Lady Lions momentum, and they started to pull away from the Lady Tigers midway through the set. A block from Harrington and an ace by Abigail Gill pushed Hamilton’s lead to double digits, and Harrington sealed the set win with back-to-back kills.

The Lady Lions carried their momentum into the fourth set, gaining an early 7-2 lead on a kill from Jones. Hamilton continued to dominate the set as they extended the lead to 12-2.

Thompson and Izzy Denton gave the Lady Tigers a much-needed spark after falling down double digits as they cut the lead to five points on an ace from Denton. The Lady Lions bounced back and regained their double-digit lead with a kill from Mitchell, but an Ashlyn Hadaway kill sparked another run for the Lady Tigers.

A block and multiple kills from Thompson inched Hatley closer and forced Hamilton to call a timeout. After the timeout, Thompson continued to thrive at the net in this set, getting a big block to trim the lead to four points.

Hamilton went up 23-18 after a Hatley error, but the Lady Tigers refused to go away. Hatley tied the game up at 23-23 after an ace from Thompson, and the Lady Lions called another timeout.

The two teams went back-and-forth trading leads and tying the score, but ultimately, the Lady Lions came away with the set win after out hits from Hatley.

“We didn’t hold our heads down after we loss the first set,” Loague said. “We kept competing, got after it and played hard.”

For Hamilton, Mitchell finished the game with nine kills and four aces, while Jones and Harrington both added eight kills. Kaylee Joslin, Gill and Kendall each had three aces on the night.

For Hatley, Thompson finished with seven kills and two aces, Denton added three aces and Wilkinson contributed two kills and a pair of aces.

Both teams will compete in the playoffs on Tuesday with Hamilton hosting Falkner and Hatley traveling to Water Valley.

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