In the squad’s first two South Central Association conference games of the 2022 season, the Houston High School volleyball team was swept 3-0 in a tightly-contested match on Tuesday of last week at Salem.

And in both outings, the Lady Tigers didn’t win a set, although they were by no means blown out in any of the 6 sets played. Salem took the first set 25-17, and then came out on top 26-24 in overtime in the second set before closing out the sweep with a 25-22 win in the third set.

Senior middle hitter Olivia Crites led Houston’s offense in the contest with 15 kills, while junior outside hitter Angie Smith had 21 digs, senior setter Makenzi Arthur had 13 assists, junior middle hitter Kelsey Pritchett had 4 blocks and senior libero Jazmine Johnson served 2 aces.

HHS senior Madi Reed digs a ball during the Lady Tigers’ loss in an SCA match Tuesday at Salem. Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO

Against Mountain Grove, the visiting Lady Panthers won in straight sets, 25-18, 25-19, 25-18.

After dropping the first set, Houston built a 12-4 lead in the second set, only to be outscored 21-13 the rest of the way.

After the Lady Panthers led 4-0 in the third set, the Lady Tigers came back to tie the score a 4-all with a flurry highlighted by 2 kills from Smith. But Mountain Grove grabbed the momentum again and ran out to a 16-7 advantage before winning the set and sweeping the match.

Smith banged 15 kills and had 14 digs and an ace in the contest, while recording a 2.15 passing rating. Arthur finished with 16 assists 14 digs and an ace, while the 6-1 Pritchett scored on a season-high 4 blocks and Johnson served up an ace.

“We’re struggling right now, but we have two choices,” said HHS head coach Loran Richardson. “We can settle for where we are at and just go through the motions, or we can step it up and fix the things we need to fix so we can start playing our best volleyball. We have shown glimpses of it against good teams, so I know we are capable of it.

“We’ve just got to believe it and put it into practice.”

The Lady Tigers (8-6, 0-2 SCA through last week) are very busy next week, traveling to Eminence for a nonconference match on Monday, and then hosting SCA games Tuesday against Thayer and Thursday against Liberty. Then on Saturday (Oct. 1), the squad will host the second annual Houston Volleyball Showdown.

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