HHS sophomore Angie Smith bangs a ball past Mountain Grove junior Reagon Hoerning (14) for a kill during the third set of the Lady Tigers' SCA road victory on Tuesday. Credit: DOUG DAVISON | HOUSTON HERALD

While they didn’t post a sweep for the sixth time this season, the Houston High School volleyball Lady Tigers did win three straight sets to prevail in a best-of-five South Central Association conference game Tuesday at Mountain Grove.

After the host Lady Panthers won the first set 25-19, Houston took the next three, 25-19, 25-18 and 25-15.

“We started out pretty rough,” said HHS head coach Loran Richardson. “Lack of communication, effort and errors hurt us. I’m proud of the way the girls turned it around and quickly took over the match.

“When we play with energy and communication, we’re hard to stop.”

Trailing 16-10 in the first set, Houston scored the next 4 points and cut the deficit to 16-14 on an ace by junior Logynn Foster.

But Mountain Grove regained the momentum and went on a 9-3 run to close out the set.

As the two teams exchanged blows in the second set, the score was tied at 18-all when the Lady Tigers found their rhythm and went on a decisive 7-1 run. The flurry was bolstered by 6-foot sophomore middle hitter Kelsey Pritchett, who had a kill and 2 blocks, including a block to score the final point.

Houston junior Makenzi Arthur digs a ball during the second set of the Lady Tigers’ victory in an SCA game Tuesday at Mountain Grove. DOUG DAVISON | HOUSTON HERALD

The Lady Panthers scored the first 2 points of the third set, but Houston responded with 8 consecutive points. With Foster serving, the run began with a pair of timely kills by 5-11 junior Olivia Crites and included rally-stopping kills by 6-foot senior Sarah Purcell and sophomore outside hitter Angie Smith.

Mountain Grove hung around for the rest of the set, but never got any closer than 5 points.

The Lady Tigers built an advantage early in the fourth and final set, and led 8-4 after a block by Pritchett and a pair of kills by Smith. Houston extended the lead from there, and went ahead 17-7 after senior Hannah Dzurick served up an ace.

The game ended on another set of back-to-back kills by Smith.

HHS senior Sarah Purcell slaps hands with assistant coach Tory Wade while returning to the bench during the second set of the Lady Tigers’ win Tuesday at Mountain Grove. DOUG DAVISON | HOUSTON HERALD

Smith led the Lady Tigers’ attack in the contest with 13 kills, while Crites and Dzurick each smacked 8 and Purcell banged 6.

Senior libero Mali Brookshire racked up 26 digs and had a 2.47 passing rating for Houston, while Smith had 17 digs. Pritchett recorded 4 blocks and Crites had 3, while Dzurick had 17 assists and junior Aliyah Walker had 12.

Houston travels to Thayer on Thursday for another SCA matchup. After a nonconference home game Monday against Eminence, the Lady Tigers hit the road for two more SCA tilts next week, facing Liberty Tuesday in Mountain View and taking on county rival Cabool on Thursday (Sept. 30).

“We’ve got some tough conference matches coming up,” Richardson said, “so we need to keep pushing to be better every day.”

The Lady Tigers raise their arms in unity following the National Anthem prior to posting a 4-set victory Tuesday at Mountain Grove. DOUG DAVISON | HOUSTON HERALD

To view a photo gallery from the contest (with the option to purchase photos), click here.

Doug Davison

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Contact him by phone at 417-967-2000 or by email at ddavison@houstonherald.com.

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