Houston junior Sarah Pierce hits the ball over her head Monday night against Eminence.

The Houston Lady Tigers knocked off several big schools over the weekend to finish second at the Rolla Invitational volleyball tournament.

The Lady Tigers’ hit list included Rolla, Osage and Waynesville.

“It was exciting to see them play well and just enjoy the game,” Houston coach Debbie James said.

The string of tough opponents continued Monday as the Lady Tigers hosted Eminence, the top-ranked team in Class 1. Houston was denied three times on set point in the opening game and eventually lost 28-26, 25-12.

On Tuesday, Houston defeated Thayer 25-14, 25-15.

At Rolla, the Lady Tigers defeated Rolla (25-23, 25-21), Mexico (25-16, 17-15) and Osage (30-28, 25-19) in pool play.

In tournament play, Houston outlasted Waynesville 23-25, 25-17, 19-17 to advance to the championship game.

“Waynesville had one of the best hitters I’ve seen in a long time,” James said. “She was dominating the net, so when she rotated to the back row, we tried to keep her there.”

James said her team had played about three consecutive hours with five-minute breaks between matches leading to the title match. Rockwood had the advantage of sitting out one match and had a 14-player roster compared to seven for Houston. Freshman Alexa Ichord injured her thumb in the first match and was sidelined the rest of the day.

Rockwood won the championship match 25-17, 25-14.

Senior Amber Honig had a team-best 38 kills in the tournament. She and Erica Keeney had 18 blocks apiece.

Haylee Kell led the Lady Tigers with 77 assists. Sarah Pierce had 30 kills and 66 assists. Keeney had a team-high eight aces.

“Haylee did a great job of stepping into a different position and setting the rest of the day (after Ichord’s injury),” James said.

On Monday, the Lady Tigers trailed Eminence 13-4 in the opening set before feverishly rallying. With Houston behind 23-20, Keeney had consecutive kills as the Lady Tigers moved within a point of winning the set. But Eminence three times survived potential game points and hung on 28-26.

“I was extremely pleased with the first set,” James said. “The way they played shows them they have outstanding potential.”

Consecutive kills from Kaitlyn Kell and Honig, followed by a Keeney ace, gave Houston a quick 5-2 advantage in the second set. The Lady Tigers led 9-6 before Eminence scored 17 of the next 18 points for a commanding 23-10 advantage and cruised to the victory.

“We are still working on the big “C” – consistency,” James said. “We must be more consistent night to night and set to set during a single match. When we stop for a court switch, we lose focus”

On Tuesday, Pierce had 12 assists and Keeney had seven kills in a road victory against Thayer.

JUNIOR VARSITY: Sarah Garrett and Demi Pittman had four kills apiece in the Lady Tigers’ 25-10, 25-21 victory Tuesday against Thayer.

Amber Sillyman and Kenzie Scheets had four assists apiece.

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply