By Tony Adams
The Belton Lady Tigers, following a tough sweep by the Gatesville Lady Hornets, traveled westbound to take part in two-day, split-session, Gatesville Invitational Tournament.
The team went into the tourney with a 4-7 record and drew the Troy Lady Trojans to open Thursday morning play.
McKinzee Robinson, Marissa Heffley and Jackie Wainwright helped serve Belton to an early 16-3 lead, aided by three Allison Waits kills. Brey York chipped in a trio of drop shots to get the Lady Tigers the first set win, 25-6.
Wainwright’s consistent service, York, Waits and Bethany Goad’s blocks spearheaded another successful Lady Tigers’ set. Abbey Morgan slammed a shot just inside the back corner for the match-winning point 25-13, advancing the Lady Tigers into the next round against Salado.
The Lady Eagles and Belton went neck-and-neck through the first set, with Salado grabbing a three point lead at 19-16. A pair of kills from York and Heffley helped shoot Belton into the lead and claim the first set 25-23.
Belton continued the momentum into the second set, as they took a 7-1 lead early. Morgan, Goad and Heffley once again contributed kills to allowed the Lady Tigers to cruise to the two-set sweep of Salado, winning the final set 25-14. Belton moved on to play Groesbeck and took on Salado on Friday. The recap of the Belton-Salado regular season match can be found later in this article.
The Lady Goats gave Belton all they could handle in the first set. The teams played evenly until Groesbeck opened up a four-point advantage 14-10. Belton got clutch kills from York and Robinson to propell the Lady Tigers to the first-set win, 25-22.
The Lady Goats came out hot in the second set, jumping out to a 14-7 and scored the final seven points to win the set 25-12 and evened the match at a set apiece.
The third set started with the score tied seven times, with the latest being 8-8. Belton took a stranglehold on the lead with key points by Wainwright, Morgan and Robinson. The Lady Tigers took the final set 25-19 to win the match 2-1 and advance to the semi-finals against Conroe New Caney on Saturday.
The Lady Spartans jumped on the Lady Tigers early, taking a 10-6 lead. Anna Becker served four consecutive points, aided by a Morgan kill and a Wainwright block to tie the score at 10-10. New Caney caught fire and rattled off a 15-5 run to take the first set 25-15.
Belton was kept at arms distance by New Caney before the Lady Tigers took an 18-15 lead. A 10-2 run by New Caney won them the set 25-20 and the match 2-0.
The loss relegated the Lady Tigers to the third place against a resurgent Temple team. The TemCats, who went into the tournament with a 0-7 record, captured a trio of wins against Llano, Waco Reicher and Harker Heights, but fell to Gatesville.
Belton came at Temple hard in the first set, jumping out to an 11-1 lead. Robinson had four kills in the streak and Morgan and Wainwright each served five points. Temple pulled together to play better through the remainder of the set, but Morgan served out the set’s final four points to take the first set 25-11.
Temple jumped out to a fast 3-0 lead in the second set. Morgan’s kill and block by Robinson, Waits and Wainwright shot the Lady Tigers into the lead 4-3. The teams went back and forth up to 14-14. Belton out the set on an 11-0 run to win set 25-14, the match 2-0 and third place.