Houston senior Lainey Casper embraces assistant coach Viki Castleman.

Houston’s senior class said farewell to Hiett Gymnasium with a thrilling come-from-behind victory.

Playing for the final time Monday night on the HHS campus, the Lady Tigers survived a pair of match points as they rallied past Summersville 23-25, 28-26, 25-19.

It was a fitting send-off for seniors Erica Keeney, Sarah Pierce, Kaitlyn Kell, Tory Burgess and Lainey Casper. They were honored alongside their parents following the match.

“They’ve done a nice job this year of being role models as far as work ethic, being in the gym, hustling and doing what I ask them to do,” Houston coach Amy McNew said. “It’s not all on the court. It’s how they carry themselves off the court as well.”

The Lady Tigers had an opportunity to earn a share of the conference title Tuesday night at Ava. But they dropped a close 26-24, 25-23 match.

After winning their first four SCA matches, Houston (15-13-2, 4-3 SCA) lost its final three, including a 25-21, 25-19 home loss Thursday to Cabool.

The Lady Tigers’ passing graded out to a 2.25 on a 3 scale against Ava — the best of the season. But Houston committed 20 hitting errors.

McNew said her team had trouble duplicating its strong play from Monday night’s victory.

“Volleyball is a momentum game,” she said. “It’s really hard to play at a high, consistent level night after night. I don’t believe in excuses, but it’s the law of averages. It’s all going to average out at some point. It just happened to be (Tuesday) night.”

Kell had a team-best eight kills at Ava. Pierce and Keeney had four apiece. Burgess had 15 assists.

On Monday, Houston stayed alive when facing match points at 24-23 and 25-24 in the second set. Summersville served the ball out of bounds both times with the opportunity to win the match and was called for a rotation error for the final point of the set.

The Lady Tigers closed out the match with a strong finish in the decisive third set. Alexa Ichord had a pair of aces as Houston, which led 20-19, scored the final five points.

Keeney had 15 kills and Pierce added nine. Lauren Hoover had 18 digs.

Although the conference title eluded the Lady Tigers, they still have a shot at the program’s first district title since 2006. They begin Class 2 District 3 play Monday night as the third seed. They face Thayer at 7 p.m. at Cabool High School.

The semifinals and championship match are Tuesday night.

“I’ve told the girls for the last two weeks, ‘No one can stand between you and the district championship except yourself,'” McNew said. “If we decide to come and play with confidence, I don’t think there is a team there that can beat us.”

JV VOLLEYBALL: Sarah Garrett had a team-best seven kills in the JV Lady Tigers’ 25-10, 25-22 victory Tuesday night at Ava.

Amber Sillyman had 14 assists for Houston (13-6). Sillyman and Kenzie Scheets had three aces apiece.

On Monday, Summersville defeated the Lady Tigers 25-14, 25-20. Demi Pittman led Houston with six kills. Scheets added four.

Sillyman had 15 assists and two of the team’s eight aces. Pittman and Kayla Herndon also had two aces.

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