CABOOL — The smeared mascara marks on Amy McNew’s right shoulder said it all. The Houston volleyball team’s season had come to an emotional end.
“The locker room ranged everywhere from extremely angry to completely devastated,” McNew said following the Lady Tigers’ 25-17, 22-25, 25-19 loss to Cabool in the Class 2 District 3 semifinals Tuesday night. “It was really hard for me to find the words. At that point in time, you really can’t say anything.”
Houston, which cruised past Thayer 25-9, 25-11 in Monday’s opening round, finished its season with a 16-14-2 record.
Liberty later defeated Cabool to win back-to-back district titles.
Senior Erica Keeney had 15 kills in her final match. Tory Burgess handed out 26 assists. Sarah Pierce and Lauren Hoover had 12 digs apiece.
Houston, which dropped a two-set decision to Cabool on Oct. 14, raced ahead 10-5 in the opening set. But following a timeout, the Lady Bulldogs scored 17 of the next 20 points to take a commanding 22-13 lead and cruise to a 1-0 advantage.
In the second set, Keeney gave Houston a 21-18 lead with an ace. With a one-point advantage, the Lady Tigers got consecutive kills from Pierce and Lainey Casper to force a decisive third set.
Trailing 21-16 late in the third set, Houston got a Pierce kill to pull within two points. But the Lady Tigers had two consecutive hitting errors as Cabool closed the match with a 4-0 run to advance to the title game.
Cabool’s Julia Reaves forced many hitting errors with her lanky frame. She also had several blocks for points.
“They had a single block and it seemed like we found it every time,” McNew said. “She did a very good job of blocking us. You have to give her credit for that.”
Although her team fell short of the program’s first district title since 2006, McNew said she had no complains in her first season as head coach.
“I asked if they gave their best effort, and they said yes,” McNew said. “Sometimes things just don’t go your way. I know they really wanted it. No one can question that. They fought. They never gave up or quit playing.”