Houston senior Emily Shea hits the ball over the net during the third set of Monday’s district opener against Licking. At the right is first-year Lady Tigers coach Loran Richardson.

CABOOL –– The Houston volleyball team couldn’t score points when they mattered most in the postseason.

The Lady Tigers’ 2016 season ended Monday afternoon with a 25-23, 14-25, 25-17 loss to Licking in the opening round of the Class 2 District 9 tournament at Cabool High School.

Fifth-seeded Houston, which lost to Licking in straight sets to open the season, had leads in the first and third sets but couldn’t close them out. The Lady Tigers led the opening set 23-19 and had a 16-15 advantage in the final one.

Licking scored the final six points of the first set and 10 of the final 11 of the third set to advance.

“It was a tough loss to end our season,” Lady Tigers coach Loran Richardson said. “I felt like overall we were the better team but we couldn’t finish the game.”

Alyssa Hayes led Houston with eight kills and four blocks. Chloe Hunninghake had three aces and Alexis Choate handed out six assists.

Although the Lady Tigers finished with a 3-24-1 record, they played better down the stretch of the season. Houston won two of its final four regular-season matches –– conference wins against Salem and Thayer –– and was in position for a district win.

“Overall, we have improved so much this season,” Richardson said. “It’s always hard when a new coach comes in, but the girls adjusted well and by the end of the season, we were playing pretty tough.”

The match was the final one for seniors Emily Shea, Jazelle Brannan and Hayes. They were honored last Thursday alongside their parents in a loss to Winona on Senior Night.

“All three of our seniors have left an impact on the program and will be greatly missed,” Richardson said. “Now the work begins in the offseason. Our younger girls have come a long way, but they still have a lot to learn and improve on.”

Monday’s matches

First round

Licking def. Houston 25-23, 14-25, 25-17

Cabool def. Sparta 25-14, 13-25, 25-9

Semifinals

Liberty def. Licking 25-10, 25-6

Willow Springs def. Cabool 25-14, 23-25, 25-19

Tuesday’s match

Championship

Liberty def. Willow Springs 25-12, 25-14

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