HHS seniors Olivia Crites (27) and Mackenzie Bryan get their hands up to defend against a ball hit by Cabool freshman Lexi Miller during the first set of the Lady Tigers' win in an SCA game Tuesday in Houston's New Gym. Credit: DOUG DAVISON | HOUSTON HERALD

In a classic game between two arch rivals, the Houston High School volleyball team notched a 3-1 victory over Cabool in a South Central Association conference matchup Tuesday in Houston’s new gym.

The visiting Lady Bulldogs won the first set in overtime, 26-24, but the Lady Tigers rebounded to take the second set, 25-22, and the third set, 25-17, before closing out the match with a come-from-behind 25-22 victory in the fourth set.

The two teams exchanged momentum throughout the hard-fought contest, with Houston’s front line frequently booming balls on downward trajectories to the other side of the net and Cabool’s pesky lineup working hard to return enough of them to keep the Lady Tigers from pulling away.

Neither squad led by more than 4 points in the back-and-forth first set before the Lady Bulldogs ultimately prevailed on back-to-back wide shots by Houston.

The Lady Tigers led 8-2 in the second set after a 7-0 run capped off by a killed slammed hard by junior outside hitter Angie Smith. But Cabool chipped away at the deficit and trailed 15-14 after several lengthy rallies.

Houston managed to maintain the lead and won the set on a big kill by senior middle hitter Olivia Crites.

HHS freshman Kayla Wagner sets a ball for senior teammate Olivia Crites during the second set of the Lady Tigers’ win over Cabool in an SCA game Tuesday in Houston’s New Gym. Crites scored on a kill after taking the pass.

After the Lady Tigers built a 15-10 lead in the third set on a point at the net by junior middle hitter Kelsey Pritchett, Cabool head coach Erica Splitter became angry with her players, called time out, and made them run lines on the court.

The ploy didn’t affect Houston’s resolve to win the set, and Crites sealed the deal by scoring the 24th point on a block and the 25th on a kill.

The scrappy Lady Bulldogs regrouped again and ran away to an 11-3 lead in the fourth set. But the Lady Tigers responded and closed the gap to 19-16 when Crites put an end to an extremely long rally with a huge kill in the center of the court.

Moments later, Houston tied the score at 21 on another kill by Crites and took a 22-21 lead on a kill by freshman Kayla Wagner.

With the intensity ratcheted way up and the crowd making lots of noise, the Lady Tigers escaped with the set and match victories on a long ball for the 24th point and an error for the 25th.

“At this point in the season, every game will be a tight match and it comes down to who wants it more,” said HHS head coach Loran Richardson. “I’m proud of the way the girls fought back in the fourth set and pulled out a win.” 

Crites finished the game with a career-high 19 kills and also scored on 2 blocks, while Smith smashed a career-high 18 kills and recorded a game-high 25 digs. Senior setter Makenzi Arthur orchestrated numerous points for Houston and finished with 23 assists, while Pritchett was officially credited with 3 blocks.

The contest took place on Senior Night, and afterward the Lady Tigers’ seniors were recognized, including Arthur, Crites, Mackenzie Bryan, Jazmine Johnson and Madi Reed.

“It was nice to get a win for our seniors,” Richardson said. “We’re thankful for all the time and effort they have given to the volleyball program over the years.”

Seniors on the HHS volleyball team gather with head coach Loran Richardson prior to Tuesday’s game against Cabool. From left, Makenzi Arthur, Jazmine Johnson, Mackenzie Bryan, Richardson, Olivia Crites and Madi Reed.

The Lady Bulldogs (11-11-1) entered the contest with a roster featuring six freshmen (including three in the starting lineup) and only two seniors.

The Lady Tigers (19-9-1, 2-3 SCA) travel to Ava on Thursday and wrap up the regular season with a road game next Tuesday at Willow Springs.

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.

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply Cancel reply