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Ace high! 16 aces lead Leyton to a sweep over Paxton

DALTON, Neb. - The Leyton Lady Warriors (3-2, D2-12) played host to the Paxton Lady Tigers (1-5, D1-12) on Tuesday night. Both storied programs, with multiple state championship appearances between them, have made it a regular occurrence to see each other during the regular season. Leyton and Paxton have met each season since 2010 with the series leaning in favor of the Lady Tigers, 4-3 during that span.

Last season, however, the Lady Warriors went on the road and swept Paxton making it three straight seasons that the road team had won the match. Leyton, and their head coach Jodi Craig, were determined to end that streak in Dalton against a young, inexperienced Lady Tigers squad.

To begin the first set, both teams seemed to be feeling the other out, as the lead changed hands multiple times. Paxton held a lead, 10-9, and then the Lady Warriors started to take control. Senior Madison Widener took over at the service line and promptly sent Leyton on a 12-0 run to take a commanding 21-10 lead. Widener recorded three aces during the run for the Lady Warriors who ultimately went on to cruise to a 25-13 set one victory.

Leyton carried the momentum into the second set, at one point going on a 6-0 run to take a 14-6 lead. Junior Danielle Higgins had already broken into double-digit assists as she helped the offense find a rhythm by setting up hitters like sophomore Madelyn Watchorn and senior Taylor Borges . The Lady Tigers were also struggling to serve receive as Leyton kept piling up aces from the service line. The Lady Warriors took the second set, 25-11, to take a commanding 2-0 lead into the third set.

With the lead, Coach Craig began to insert some younger players into the match as freshmen Ella Draper and Jillian Ehlers came off the bench. Draper recorded an ace the first time she touched the volleyball and went on to take over for Higgins at the setter position finishing with three. Ehlers may have gotten the biggest cheer of all from her teammates after getting the first kill in her young varsity career. 

Paxton made it interesting, going on a 6-0 run near the end of set three, but Leyton held on to win 25-23 on a service error by the Lady Tigers. 

In the end, the Lady Warriors finished with 16 aces, unofficially, and were led by Widener who finished with six and earned player of the game honors. Watchorn finished with a team high eight kills, and Higgins totaled 19 assists for Leyton.

The Lady Warriors move to 4-2 on the season with the win, and will return home next Tuesday to host a triangular with Garden County and Bayard. Paxton falls to 1-6 on the year and they’ll hit the court again on Thursday to host South Platte and Perkins County in a triangular.

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