For the last several weeks Denton coach Cassie Headrick has worked to get the Lady Broncos out of a rut of starting out matches slowly. Week by week, Denton has steadily gotten out to better starts.

It all came to a head on Tuesday night against crosstown rival Ryan.

Behind an all-around strong night on offense, the Lady Broncos dispatched the Lady Raiders in their District 6-5A meeting at home to sweep the match (25-15, 25-15, 25-16) and the season series as well.

Right out of the chute Denton hit the gas on offense, leading 20-11 at one point in the first set before putting it away and never quite looking back. Nevertheless, Headrick understands that to get where the Lady Broncos want to go, they will need to clean things on offense despite grabbing their 26th overall win of the season and seventh in district play.

“It was a slower-paced game,” Headrick said. “And so, we tend to go down to that. We’ve got to stop doing that. We’ve got to be able to control that offensively. And I thought we didn’t pass the ball super great at the beginning, and then we kind of settled in and it allowed us to get the ball where we wanted it to go.”

Lauren Perry led that offensive attack for Denton with 14 kills with Tessa Gerwig just behind with 11 kills of her own. Katelyn Thomas and Abby Folsom teamed up to combined for five kills each, with Folsom racking up 25 assists.

For Ryan, it was described as an off-night by coach Nicole Hervey in all phases of the Lady Raiders’ game plan. While they found themselves getting out to quick starts in each set, they were not able to finish in any of them.

“Really, we just we just didn’t fight tonight,” Hervey said. “This was just not a good game for us tonight. We did not play well tonight at all. We just struggled because we couldn’t get our energy and we couldn’t get any momentum even though we started off.”

Kali Keese was out in front for the Ryan offense with eight kills to go along with 18 digs on the night, while Darla Crow and Jaida Gray had eight kills combined.

On the Lady Broncos’ defensive end — a strength for them all season — it was Gerwig and Thomas holding down the front end with a combined six blocks between the two, though Perry was strong in the middle with 13 digs.

“I just think defensively, we have to be just a little bit better,” Headrick said. “I know I talked [before] about our eyes, but it’s true. We must identify if someone’s taking a slow approach. And so sometimes we do good at that. And sometimes we don’t do so good at that. And so, it’s just finding that consistency and let them know, yes, that’s what we wanted.”

Headrick and the Lady Broncos understand that every opponent is going to present different styles and challenges in terms of pace of play. It is just a matter of not playing to the other team’s strength.

“It allows you to do to run your game,” Headrick said of controlling the tempo of a game. “We like to play fast. And when things get to be slowed like that, then that basically means that we play the same way, and you don’t get the crowd into the game and all those things. So, we must be a little bit better.”

LAYTEN PRAYTOR can be reached via Twitter at @PraytorLayten.

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