ARGYLE — Kiley Lavelle was so nauseated before Friday’s district title match against Decatur that she had to take a 30-minute nap in the locker room just before pregame warmups.
The thought of calling in sick never crossed her mind.
In a pivotal clash between the top two teams in District 8-4A, Lavelle fought off a stomach bug and a ferocious assault from the defending state champs with 15 kills and five blocks — including the clinching block in the fifth set — to lead the No. 7 Lady Eagles to a wild 18-25, 25-19, 25-18, 18-25, 15-11 win and outright district title.
“I didn’t feel great when we started; I felt like I was going to throw up,” Lavelle said. “But the adrenaline took over.”
And at the right time, too. After falling behind after the first set, Argyle (30-5, 6-0 district) rattled off back-to-back wins to take what looked at the time to be a commanding 2-1 match lead. That momentum quickly vanished in the fourth, however, as Decatur (26-13, 4-2) closed that set on a 13-4 run to force the decisive fifth set.
Decatur began pulling ahead in the fifth set, too, as it built a slim but sturdy 8-5 lead.
The Lady Eagles answered with a 10-3 run to finally put Decatur away. Allie Jones set up match point with a hard kill through the heart of the Decatur defense. On the ensuing play, Lavelle finished it off with a block at the net.
“I feel like telling her, ‘You may need to take naps more often,’” Argyle coach Megan DeGroot said jokingly. “Kiley showed up not feeling well at all, and for her to play like that really shows the type of player she is.”
But to knock off Decatur, Argyle needed a lot more than Lavelle. She was one of three Argyle players to reach double figures in kills. Jones had 18 kills and Mariah Hesselgesser, an Arkansas State commit, chipped in 13. Hesselgesser also had seven blocks. Jada Price added 48 digs.
All four of those girls were instrumental in Argyle picking up back-to-back wins midway through the match. They used an 8-4 run to close out the second set and built a 20-15 lead in the third before holding on down the stretch.
With the win, Argyle extends its win streak to 16 and in the process completes a sweep of its arch-nemesis. Both matches went five sets. This is also Argyle’s first outright district title since 2016. Even if the Lady Eagles lose their final two matches and finish with the same record as Decatur, they’d still hold the district tiebreaker based on head-to-head.
“I’m super proud,” Argyle coach Megan DeGroot said. “In that fifth set, I was very emotional. All I could think [to tell the girls] was play to win; don’t play to not lose. And play to say that the last time you played Decatur, you won.
“Playing a team like this is perfect preparation for where we want to be on Nov. 23. And we may see them again.”