SANGER — When Aubrey offensive standout Kaia Saylor went down with an injury back in August, the Lady Chaparrals were in search of someone to take the reins on the front row.
With a lineup consisting of many talented hitters, freshman Sydney Garrison emerged from the pack. Garrison has hit an impressive stride recently, leading Aubrey in kills in the past four matches.
During Tuesday night’s road match against Sanger, Garrison continued to put on a show. The Lady Chaps outside hitter finished with 13 kills, six digs and two aces to lead Aubrey to a straight set sweep over Sanger 29-27, 25-17, 25-20.
“She’s been huge for us,” Aubrey coach Whitney Stout said. “She’s had to handle a lot of weight on her shoulders for a freshman, especially after Kaia went down. She’s done a really good job of shouldering it all season long. Whatever we’ve asked her to do, she just keeps going and continues to get better.”
Katie Schmitz, the other offensive power on Aubrey’s front row, finished with 10 kills. Laney Roos finished with a team-high 10 digs, while Gracie Bell added 25 assists.
“I thought we came out focused and ready to play,” Stout said. “Our focus for the week was to come out and not start flat. Take the momentum, take the energy, take the fight and set the tone for the game.”
After trading blows through the first set, Aubrey went on an 8-1 run to make it 21-13. However, the Lady Indians mounted an incredible comeback to even the set 22-22.
As the set dwindled down and both teams refused to give one another an edge, Garrison wound up and delivered a powerful kill down the line to give the Lady Chaparrals a huge 29-27 win in the opening set.
Aubrey (5-1 in District 11-4A) took the momentum from the thrilling first set victory and ran with it.
“I just think it goes to show that our kids have been in tough situations all year long,” Stout said. “These kids don’t ever quit fighting, it doesn’t matter what the score is. They don’t get rattled where early on we might have struggled in that situation. Now they’re just going to bear down and play.
In the second set, the Lady Chaps jumped out to a 15-8 lead due to several costly mistakes from the Lady Indians. The Lady Chaps went on to comfortably win the second set 25-17 to put themselves in the driver’s seat to sweep Sanger in a pivotal district match.
Sanger coach Scott Montgomery said the Lady Indians’ mistakes were the difference tonight, and they need to be more consistent if they want to make a playoff push.
“We played all over the place,” Montgomery said. “At spurts we played really well as a team, and at other spurts we got our heads down, which you can’t do against a good team like Aubrey. We just weren’t consistent with our execution tonight.”
Lindzi Thomas led the Lady Indians with 10 kills, while Mya Afflerback added another 7 kills.
Aubrey continues district play on Friday at Anna, while Sanger (2-4 in District 11-4A) will look to end its three-game skid against Gainesville.