The last time Cameron Yoe visited Wildcat Gym, its volleyball season ended in straight sets against eventual Class 3A state semifinalist Lorena in the third round of the 2021 playoffs.
The Lady Yoe’s return to Temple started off much like that postseason encounter but as Tuesday’s non-district match against the host Tem-Cats rolled along, Yoe found its rhythm and posted a 21-25, 25-20, 25-13, 25-19 victory.
“There was some vindication tonight,” said Lady Yoe head coach Elena Queen, who is in her first year at the helm after serving as the assistant in Cameron and many years in charge of Academy’s program. “I’m a little disappointed about the first set but pleased with the result.”
Haley Tucker landed a match-high 16 kills and Ainsley Driska added 12 for the Lady Yoe (9-9), who showed Temple’s defense multiple looks at the net that proved difficult to sort out at times. Sydni Smith chipped in four kills and Lauren Harris had three.
“They’re explosive,” Temple coach Anna Anderson said of Yoe’s attack. “Kids are a little bit young and we have to make sure we find the main hitters, and we knew they had two. That’s our work in progress right now, not just win one game but win multiple games.”
It was the second consecutive home match in which the Tem-Cats (3-16) won the first set before dropping the next three.
Dawn Smith paced Temple with six kills, Keagan Bankston had four and Alli Vaden three, while Natalia Partida had a team-high eight assists.
“Our kids’ energy was much better,” Anderson said. “They have to understand that it’s going to be a fight every time, and we’re just going to stay with the positives.”
Speaking of, the Tem-Cats’ service in Game 1 helped them jump out to the 1-0 match lead. Temple committed just two service errors in the opening set, using the accuracy to throw off Yoe’s system.
“I told them the biggest thing is consistency. We can’t miss serves. We don’t have time for that. We will get in a pickle if we miss serves,” Anderson said. “So, when we don’t miss serves like that then it helps everything else tremendously. We can sneak in an ace here and there and we can get our kids motivated.”
Yoe shook off its slow start early in Game 2 and led by as much as eight en route to evening the match.
“We changed some things and it finally clicked with the tempo,” Queen said.
Driska and Tucker took over the third, leaping from the left, middle and right to meet sets from Kaly White with sweeping right-handed strikes. Driska and Tucker combined for eight kills in Game 3, which was tied at 6-all but soon tilted toward the visitors thanks to two spurts of 6-0 and a 5-0 sprint to the finish.
Yoe never trailed in Game 4.
“I think that we kind of teach our girls to not get stressed about it. We just relaxed. That’s what we worked on all weekend, was just to relax,” Queen said. “We know what we can do, our skill. We’re just going to go back to the fundamentals — pass and hit, pass and hit. It’s just putting all the pieces together and making them work.”
Both teams return to tournament action this weekend with the Lady Yoe entered into the Johnson City tournament.
Temple, meanwhile, will play in the Academy tournament Thursday and Saturday with a separate non-district match against Waco University slated for 6:30 p.m. Friday at Wildcat Gym.
“We’re still looking for that rotation,” Anderson said. “I told the kids, it’s literally going to take all of us, from knowing their role on the bench and when I ask them to come in. It’s everybody just staying positive and being excited for each other.”