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Tom Waddill/The Huntsville item New Waverly junior Alex Abbott keeps her eyes on the ball during Saturday’s district match against Centerville. The Lady Dogs lost to the Lady Tigers in three sets.

The Lady Bulldogs know that in order to contend in district, they’ll have to go through Centerville and Anderson-Shiro.

Just like they did against Anderson, New Waverly fell in three games 25-11, 25-8, 25-17 to the Lady Tigers on Saturday in Bulldog Gym.

After failing to win a single game in their first two district matches against Anderson-Shiro and Centerville, the Lady Dogs know exactly how much further they have to go to be on par with the district’s top two teams.

“Centerville and Anderson have been the top two teams in our district the past two years,” New Waverly head coach Stacy Hill said. “We definitely want to push them and make them work. I think that if we keep playing like we did in the third game today, we can be the second-best team in our district.”

Brianna LeFlore led the Lady Bulldogs with 10 kills and five blocks. Kayla Munoz added nine kills and two blocks. Kali Pavelock and Morgan Hunter each recorded five kills for the day. Alex Abbott chipped in a pair blocks.

“Bri LeFlore and Morgan Hunter had the best game I’ve seen out of them all year. They were unbelievably good. I’m just so impressed with their level of play,” Hill said.

After getting routed in the first two games, the Lady Bulldogs (0-2 in District 23-2A, 12-11 overall) put up a fight in the decisive game.

“That third game, they showed that they can play with anybody in the state if they want to,” Hill said. “The first two games were pretty disheartening, but that third game kind of put us back on the right track.”

New Waverly took a 4-3 lead when Lady Tigers outside hitter Jill Griffin sent a spike into the net.

Thanks to a strong offensive effort from LeFlore, Pavelock and Hunter, the Lady Bulldogs were able to hold onto the lead before Centerville found a way to catch up, tying it at 14.

The Lady Tigers scored 11 of the next 14 points and put away New Waverly on a pair of powerful spikes by Madison Taylor.

“I think those first two games, we were kind of excited,” Hunter said. “The second game, everything changed for us. We had to switch positions and it was different. After those first two games, we were just fed up.

“We were just ready to get the ball and do what we knew how to do. We’re tired of not playing to our full potential. We’re tired of being looked at as a joke by teams that are so good like that. We did really well that third game. We just have to play like that the entire time.”

In the first two games, New Waverly struggled out of the gate.

Centerville quickly turned a slim 6-3 lead into a 16-6 advantage and cruised to win the opening game.

“That first game, we just got into a slump and couldn’t get out of it. We weren’t moving,” Hill said. “I told them in warmups that if we don’t pick up our feet, we’re going to struggle because Centerville’s a very quick moving team.”

In the second game, the Lady Tigers scored 17 of the game’s first 18 points. The Lady Dogs could get no closer than 12 points at 18-6.

“We knew that we were better than how we were playing,” LeFlore said. “Once you start clicking, you keep clicking and keep moving forward.”

The Lady Bulldogs continue district play Tuesday when they’ll face Groveton. First serve is scheduled for 6 p.m.