By DARIN ALLRED

Register Sports Editor

The North Central Texas College Lady Lions volleyball team just might be the best 0-5 team in the country.

After dropping four matches at the always-tough Tyler Junior College tournament this past weekend, the Lady Lions played inspired ball in their home opener against Redlands (OK) Community College Tuesday.

But despite some outstanding play, NCTC dropped a 25-19, 25-27, 25-16, 12-25, 12-15 decision to the Lady Cougars.

In the first game, North Central only trailed once, and that was at 1-0. Ashley Lewis had an early kill, Sam Smith added a pair of kills and two service points, and Danielle Hazzard registered two kills as the Lady Lions opened up a 13-7 lead.

Redlands got within four (16-12), but that was as close as they would get. Smith had a block and a kill on back-to-back points, Kate Harrison scored a point on a tip, Carmen Stallcup had a block and Smith added a late kill as NCTC took game one 25-19.

The second game would turn out to be a heartbreaker for the Lady Lions. They fell behind early 9-3 despite a pair of kills by Hazzard. They were down by as many as seven (11-4) when they started chipping away. Chelsea Hermes of Lindsay had a kill, Smith served an ace, Carrie Johnson had two kills, Stallcup added a kill and Hazzard had two of her own. Courtney Diehl served a pair of points and Smith served three in a row as North Central came back to take a 21-20 lead.

After an ace by Leslye Richmond, NCTC was ahead 24-23 and one point away from taking a commanding 2-0 lead in the match, but the Lady Cougars battled back and won the game 27-25.

Game three was all NCTC. Lewis served the first nine points of the match including four aces. Hazzard pummeled two kills and the Lady Lions were quickly up 9-0.

Redlands came back and eventually got within six (12-6), but kills by Smith, Hazzard and Johnson along with a block by Johnson pushed the lead to 18-8. From there, the teams pretty much traded sideouts until Smith hit one down hard for the final point in a 25-16 win.

Needing just one more game to take the match, the Lady Lions struggled in the fourth game. They quickly fell behind 9-5 until kills by Smith and Hermes brought them back within two. From there, it was pretty much all Redlands as they won 16 of the next 21 points to win 25-12 and force a fifth game.

In game five, North Central fell behind early 3-1, but came right back thanks to kills by Stallcup and Smith and an ace by Hazzard. The Lady Lions were up 5-3, but momentum quickly went back to the Cougars who took a 10-7 lead. Points at the net from Hazzard and Hermes tied things up 10-10, but Redlands served well down the stretch and took the game 15-12 to win the match.

The Lady Lions will try to get their first win of the season this weekend when they participate in the Vernon College tournament Friday and Saturday. On Friday, NCTC will face Western Texas College at 11:15 a.m., and Brookhaven College at 3:45 p.m. On Saturday, they will take on Clarendon College at 9 a.m., and Richland College at 1:30 p.m.

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