While it may not have been their prettiest win of the season, the Houston High School Volleyball Lady Tigers got the job done again and won a South Central Association conference game Thursday night at Cabool.
After Houston took the first set in the best-of-5 contest 25-19, Cabool evened the game by winning the second set 25-22. The Lady Tigers took the advantage again by taking the third set 25-17, and then closed out the big victory with decisive 25-17 win in the fourth and final set.
Houston’s depth played a key role in the contest, and the squad’s defense repeatedly covered up mistakes and temporary slumps.
“It was good to get a win at Cabool,” said HHS head coach Loran Richardson. “Although we tend to play inconsistently at times against certain opponents, we have still been able to finish games.”
The Lady Tigers jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the back-and-forth first set after a service ace by senior setter Hannah Dzurick, but the host Lady Bulldogs tied the score at 7-all on an ace by senior outside hitter Hailey Shannon.
As the two squads exchanged blows from there, Houston built a 4-point lead at 20-16 on a short kill by sophomore outside hitter Angie Smith, and capped off an 8-3 run with an ace by junior Aliyah Walker to lead 21-16 before cruising to the set win.
The second set was a tightly-contested affair from beginning to end, as Cabool held a slim 22-21 advantage after a block by 6-foot Houston sophomore Kelsey Pritchett before eventually squeaking past their guests.
After taking a 1-0 lead on a kill by junior middle hitter Olivia Crites, the Lady Tigers led throughout the set despite a barrage of bombs delivered at severe downward trajectory by the hard-hitting, 5-11 Shannon. Houston finished the set with a 7-1 run, ending with a kill to the back-right corner by Dzurick and a block by Pritchett.
The Lady Tigers were firing on all cylinders through most of the fourth and final set.
With junior Madi Reed serving, Houston went on an 8-0 run and led 16-5 after Reed served up her second ace in the flurry.
The Lady Tigers kept the pressure on and held a commanding 21-8 lead after an ace by junior defensive specialist Logynn Foster.
The Lady Bulldogs (9-11-1, 2-3 SCA) continued playing hard and reduced the gap to 22-16 with an 8-1 run culminating with an ace by senior Alexis Hunter.
But Houston scored the next 3 points and closed out the game with a kill by Smith.
Following the win, the Lady Tigers stood alone atop the SCA standings at 4-0 and had an overall record of 14-2-1.
Houston is done with SCA play until the final three regular season games, Oct. 12, 14 and 19 in the new HHS gym. The Lady Tigers will face a stiff challenge in the upcoming Class 2 District 9 tournament, as the district’s 5-team field includes Licking, Liberty, Mansfield and Thayer.
“We’ve got to start playing at our highest level as we get closer to districts,” Richardson said. “Our district is tough and we will need to be playing our best volleyball in order to win. We are a good team and all of these girls contribute so much to our success. I’m confident we can keep competing with every opponent we face.”
The Lady Tigers will host the inaugural Houston Volleyball Showdown Saturday (Oct. 2) in the new gym.
The 8-team tournament includes Houston, Bradleyville, Plato and Thayer in Pool A, while Pool B features Bourbon, Mansfield, Mountain Grove and Willow Springs.
Pool play is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m., and will include 2-set games. The top two teams in each pool will advance to best-of-3 bracket games.