Junior Kaitlyn Kell puts down a kill in the district semifinals against Cabool.

MOUNTAIN VIEW — Playing back-to-back matches with the district title on the line proved to be too much for the Houston Lady Tigers volleyball team to overcome.

Less than 30 minutes after knocking off No. 2 seed Cabool in the semifinals, the Lady Tigers hung close with top-seeded Liberty in the Class 2 District 3 championship match before losing 25-19, 25-12 Tuesday night.

“We lost to a good team, and I hope they represent us well at state,” Lady Tigers coach Debbie James said.

Senior Amber Honig led Houston with five kills. Haylee Kell handed out seven assists, and Alexa Ichord and Erica Keeney had five blocks apiece.

Houston played the second set of the title game without starter Sarah Pierce, who injured her wrist late in the opening set.

“At that point you could just see them let down,” James said.

After trailing early, the Lady Tigers rallied and led 14-12 following a kill by Keeney. Houston still had a 15-14 advantage before Liberty scored six consecutive points to take control of the match.

Pierce returned for the second set with her right wrist heavily taped. But she was forced to the sidelines after a few points and Liberty rolled.

The Lady Eagles scored 13 of the first 17 points and cruised to the championship win.

In the semifinals, Honig had seven kills to lead Houston past Cabool 25-19, 25-23. Pierce and Haylee Kell had nine assists apiece, and Kaitlyn Kell had three aces.

Honig had a pair of kills and a block during a 10-2 rally in the opening set that gave the Lady Tigers a commanding 17-12 advantage.

Houston led 15-8 in the second set and never trailed, despite a late rally as the Lady Tigers tied it at 23-all.

Cabool had defeated the Lady Tigers 13-25, 25-21, 25-23 on Oct. 13 to earn the district’s second seed.

“I knew if my team would play up to their ability, we would win,” James said. “I told the girls the pressure is off, just relax and enjoy playing and we did.”

In Monday night’s opening round, Pierce had nine assists and eight kills to lead the Lady Tigers past No. 6 Thayer 25-17, 25-14.

Haylee Kell had 12 assists, and Lainey Casper and Honig had four kills each for Houston. Honig added three aces.

Tuesday’s matches were the final ones for Honig, the team’s lone senior.

“It has been an honor to coach this team,” James said. “They are a fun bunch to be around.”

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