AZLE — Every journey in life begins with the first step.

And if Friday night is any indication, the Cleburne Lady Jackets could be on their way to a good season.

“I thought it was a good starting point,” Cleburne head coach Floyd Rogers said following scrimmage action in Azle. “We haven’t got to practice as much as we would have like to this week, but this is definitely a good starting point for us.”

The Lady Jackets took on three different teams in the scrimmage, including a pair of Class 5A squads in Justin Northwest and Flower Mound, along with host school Azle, which is Class 4A.

Cleburne struggled in the opening moments of its first contest against Flower Mound.

Flower Mound maintained an early lead until Cleburne took over about 20 points into the contest.

Beginning with a kill from Katie Tull and a tandem block from Shelby Stinebaugh and Ashlie Christenson, the Lady Jackets took the lead and began to pull away.

Later in the game, Christenson served up an ace, while Tull, Stinebaugh, Kyli Ginn, Justine Forrest and Collin Valis all tallied kills as Cleburne opened up an 11-point lead.

Eventually, Cleburne closed out the 45-minute scrimmage with a quartet of kills from Christenson and a pair of kills from Forrest as the Lady Jackets won 43 of the 73 points of the match.

The Azle Lady Hornets were the next matchup for Cleburne.

And the Lady Jackets proved to have more punch behind its sting as Cleburne won 69 of the 107 points contested in the contest.

Cleburne never trailed against Azle, taking five of the first six points as Ginn had a pair of aces, while Christenson and Tull each recorded a kill.

Whitni Calvert got in on the action a little later with a couple of kills, while junior Jenna Richardson traded her yellow jersey for a different colored one, working as the Cleburne libero.

Stinebaugh pushed the Cleburne lead out to eight points with back-to-back kills later in the contest as Azle was simply overmatched.

Cleburne found things to be a little tougher with its final matchup against the Lady Texans of Northwest.

Christenson had four kills in the early going against the Lady Texans as Cleburne built a five-point lead.

However, Northwest began to find its groove when serving and eventually took a two-point lead.

But beginning with a kill from Forrest, the Lady Jackets retook control.

A kill and dump from Ginn, along with two kills each from Tull and Christenson saw Cleburne extend its lead to seven points by the time the teams traded sides.

Cleburne pulled away for the remainder of the contest as Natalie Renfro showed why she could be a serving specialist for the Lady Jackets as she recorded a quartet of aces.

The Lady Jackets won 60 of the 106 points in the matchupp with the Lady Texans.

For the match, Cleburne outscored its three opponents, 172-114, winning 60.1 percent of the points contested.

“I was pleased with our ball control as the matches progressed,” Rogers said. “I also thought that our blocking got better as the night moved along.

“However, there are some things we need to work on with our communication and our serve receive,” he added. “Plus, we can work on our serving a little more, although we did serve well at times. But overall, I am happy. This was a good start for us.”

Christenson tallied 37 kills in the three scrimmages, along with a number of aces, while Ginn recorded 68 assists. Tull and Stinebaugh were also in double figures in kills with 16 and 10, respectively.

Tull and Stinebaugh also led the way in the block department.

Cleburne takes to the road for its regular season opener on Tuesday with a tri-match in Waxahachie against the Lady Indians and Midway, two perennial powerhouses in Class 4A volleyball.

The match begins at 5 p.m.



Daniel Green can be reached at 817-645-2441, ext. 2334, or sports@trcle.com

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