In a tightly-contested, back-and-forth affair, Houston outlasted Willow Springs for a 3-set victory in a South Central Association volleyball match Tuesday in Hiett Gymnasium.
In arguably their best outing of the season, the Lady Tigers beat the visiting Lady Bears on senior night, 25-22, 18-25, 25-22.
Houston took an early lead in the first set, but Willow Springs went on top 12-11 after an ace. But after a series of unforced errors by the Lady Bears, the Lady Tigers grabbed a 15-13 advantage and never trailed again.
Houston led 24-21 after consecutive kills by senior Viviana Guerra and secured the set victory on a long ball by Willow Springs.
The Lady Tigers scored first in the second set, but the Lady Bears built an 11-5 lead on a deep kill by senior Kassidy Brotherton. Houston fought back and crept to within a point at 13-12 following a Willow Springs service error, but the Lady Bears pulled away and led 24-16 after a lengthy point concluded with a kill by hard-hitting senior Chyann Watts.
In the third set, Houston (8-12-2, 3-3 SCA after the match) was up 16-13 after sophomore Sarah Purcell scored on a block of an attempted kill by Watts, and led 18-14 after a kill by senior Janae Huff. But Willow Springs scored the next three points and trailed 18-17 following a kill by sophomore Hailey Sigman.
The Lady Tigers didn’t relent, and were up 24-21 after Huff scored twice with perfectly placed hits that fell to the floor untouched, one in the middle and one on the left sideline.
With the home crowd in a frenzy, the set concluded when a long point ended with a ball hit by Willow Springs touching the antenna directly in front of the head referee.
“What an awesome game to win on senior night!” said HHS head coach Loran Richardson. “These girls played with heart and competed the whole match! Winning in three sets is never easy and the girls didn’t give up. I was so proud of every single one of them.”
Purcell finished with 6 kills in the match, while Guerra and Huff had 5 apiece. Senior libero Kelly Hubbs had 19 digs, while Guerra had 12. Huff and sophomore Hannah Dzurick each had 10 assists, while junior Lexie Spratt notched 3 aces and junior Prairie Nunnery was credited with 2 blocks.
The match marked the final home appearance for Guerra, Hubbs, Huff and fellow seniors Baylee Weaver and Taylor Medlock.
“It felt amazing to win our last game on our home court,” Guerra said. “It brought me great joy to play hard with these girls and have all our hard work pay off.”
“That win was something great,” Huff said. “Our team came together to come out on top. We are capable of so much. It was a good feeling to show everyone in our last home game what we can do together.”
Houston finishes the regular season next week with a pair of road matches. The Lady Tigers play Tuesday at Mountain Grove and travel to Winona on Thursday.