CABOOL – During a timeout, coach Debbie James pleaded with her players to tell her what was wrong. They simply weren’t playing hard.
No one had an answer.
After grinding out a 25-18, 25-22 victory against Cabool in the semifinals, the Houston volleyball team offered little resistance as Mountain View-Liberty rolled to a 25-16, 25-17 victory Tuesday in the Class 2 District 9 championship match.
It was the fifth-ever district title and first since 1993 for the Lady Eagles, who advance to face Pierce City Saturday. The Lady Tigers finished their season 13-16-3.
“I hated to see them end the season this way,” James said. “This team had way too much talent to just stand there and let Mountain View walk away with that trophy.”
Kate Harper had seven kills against Liberty and six against Cabool, and Janell Gentry had 28 combined assists as the senior duo played their final matches at Houston.
The Lady Tigers only trailed 15-14 in the opening set against Liberty after freshman Sarah Pierce’s kill. But the Lady Eagles (18-10-3) scored 10 of the next 12 points to close out Game 1.
Houston never led in the second game. Liberty scored seven of the first nine points and extended its lead to 12-4 with five straight points.
James said she was disappointed in her team’s defense against the Lady Eagles. Houston managed just two blocks and struggled with its passing.
“We work on blocking a lot. They just didn’t get up and get it done,” James said. “We also had one of our weakest passing performances of the year. They let their nerves get to them and just didn’t play ball.”
It was a completely different story earlier in the evening against Cabool.
Playing on the Lady Bulldogs’ home court, Houston scored the match’s first six points and raced out to an 11-2 lead. After Cabool closed the gap to 22-18, Harper had a kill and freshman Erica Keeney closed out the match with a hard spike between defenders.
With Houston ahead 19-18 in the second set, Keeney and Gentry had kills as the Lady Tigers went ahead 21-18. Amber Honig’s tip over the net extended the lead to 24-19 as Houston advanced to the championship match.