Houston sophomore Erica Keeney dives for the ball in the second set of Thursday's loss to Mountain Grove.

The Houston varsity volleyball team let an 18-7 third set advantage slip away Thursday night as Mountain Grove rallied for a 25-18, 19-25, 25-23 victory.

The Lady Panthers rattled off nine consecutive points to jump-start the rally as they dealt Houston a disappointing loss.

“Adrenaline plays a major role in volleyball during tough matches. The minute we started playing not to lose, instead of playing to win, we were out of the game,” Houston coach Debbie James said.

James burnt both of her timeouts during Mountain Grove’s rally. Neither worked.

“That is when leadership on the court is crucial,” James said. “The team in general just lost focus. Mountain Grove mentally out-played us.”

Sarah Pierce had 30 assists and four aces for Houston. Erica Keeney had a team-high nine kills. Samantha Jones had seven kills and seven aces.

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