Playing a pair of South Central Association conference matches in their home court this week, the Houston High School volleyball Lady Tigers won one and lost one, sweeping Thayer 3-0 on Tuesday (25-12, 25-18, 25-17) and falling 3-1 to Liberty on Thursday (20-25, 13-25, 25-16, 16-25).
The match against Liberty represented a potential postseason preview for Houston, as both squads are assigned to Class 2 District 9 and could face off with a lot on the line later this month.
The Lady Tigers led in all four sets at some point, but led by 5-10 junior Bre Daniels, 5-9 junior Mackinzie Tomey and 5-9 sophomore Korie Lind, the active and talented Lady Eagles (14-2-1, 4-0 SCA through last Thursday) responded by gaining the momentum and prevailing in three sets.
After winning the third set, Houston was on top 7-4 in the fourth set and seemed to be on a roll. But Liberty then went on a 15-3 run to take a commanding 19-10 advantage, and the Lady Eagles cruised to the victory from there.
Junior outside hitter Angie Smith had another big outing for the Lady Tigers, smashing a game-high 14 kills while also serving up 3 aces, digging 13 balls and recording a 2.14 passing rating. Senior setter Makenzi Arthur had 15 assists and scored on 2 blocks for Houston, while freshman Kayla Wagner had a pair of aces.
“Overall, we competed pretty well against Liberty,” said HHS head coach Loran Richardson. “They are a very good team and we showed that we can play right with them. We just can’t have breakdowns one set and play from behind. We will most likely see Liberty again, so last night was an opportunity for us to see what we need to work on against them.”
In the sweep over Thayer (9-10, 0-4 SCA through last Thursday), senior middle hitter Olivia Crites led Houston’s offense with 11 kills, while also scoring twice on blocks. Arthur had 18 assists and a whopping 9 aces in the contest, while Smith notched 18 digs and Wagner and junior Kelsey Pritchett had 2 blocks apiece.
“It was good to get a conference win,” Richardson said. “As a team, we served and attacked pretty well. We want to continue to build on those positive things and shake off our mistakes. We still have a lot of games left and need to keep getting better and find more energy and excitement.”
The Lady Tigers (10-7, 1-3 SCA) host the second annual Houston Volleyball Showdown on Saturday. The 12-team tournament begins at 9 a.m. and will feature games in both the New Gym and Hiett Gym.