Making the task look relatively easy, the Houston High School volleyball team cruised to a 3-0 sweep Tuesday at Plato.

The Lady Tigers outscored the host Lady Eagles 25-11 in the first set and 25-9 in the second, before closing out the sweep with a 26-6 victory in the third set.

After the two teams traded blows for a while in the opening set, Houston led 9-7. But with junior outside hitter Angie Smith serving, the Lady Tigers went on a 12-0 run to take a commanding 21-7 advantage and coasted to the set win from there.

Smith had four kills and an ace in the set, while senior outside hitter Makenzi Arthur scored several points and also served up an ace.

Plato actually took a 1-0 lead in the second set on an ace by junior Brenna Couch, but the Lady Tigers got away and held a 16-7 lead after Smith banged 3 consecutive aces.

With Houston in complete control, the set concluded with Arthur serving 3 straight aces.

The Lady Tigers were never threatened in the third set and the game ended on an ace by senior Mackenzie Bryan.

Houston’s offense was dominant throughout the game, as Smith finished with 9 kills and senior middle hitter Olivia Crites smacked 8. Smith finished a well-rounded performance in the game by also recording 6 aces and a career-high 17 digs (including two where she dove to the floor and was virtually horizontal when she barely got a fist under the ball).

Arthur also had a good overall outing, finishing with 4 aces and 11 digs, while Crites scored on 2 blocks and junior Kelsey Pritchett had 1. Freshman setter Kayla Wagner continued a fine first year of high school ball with 14 assists.

HHS freshman Kayla Wagner hits a ball with her back to the net during the Lady Tigers’ win Tuesday at Plato. Watching are teammates, from left, Angie Smith, Olivia Crites and Makenzi Arthur.

The Lady Tigers had a whopping 17 aces in the game and were good on 96% of their serves.

“Overall, the girls did a good job remaining consistent last night,” said HHS head coach Loran Richardson, “and we served really well. We have to continue to work on passing and focus on communication, especially when we are out of system.”

Having won their last 12 sets to sweep four straight games, Houston (4-1) travels to Conway on Thursday and plays Saturday in the annual Cabool Invitational tournament. The Lady Tigers begin South Central Association conference play Tuesday at Salem.

“We’re getting ready to enter a tough stretch of games,” Richardson said, “and if we continue to improve, we will be very competitive.”

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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