By Tony Adams
The Belton Lady Tigers’ volleyball team went into the 2014 Westwood Volleyball Showcase with an even 1-1 record on the season and readied themselves in what would be an three-day, eight-match stretch at Canyon Vista Middle School in suburban Austin last weekend.
The young Lady Tigers won three of eight matches over the 48-hour period, seeing some of the best volleyball teams in the state of Texas.
Belton played A&M Consolidated to start Thursday’s action. The Lady Tigers never got started in the match, as A&M took Belton in straight sets 25-12 and 25-9.
After a couple of hours of rest, the Lady Tigers played Austin Vandegrift. Abbey Morgan opened the first set with a trio of service points, serving an ace and Brey York’s backhanded drop shot to put Belton up.
The Lady Vipers kept chipping away at the Lady Tigers and took the lead 9-8. The teams traded two-point leads until Belton took an 18-15 lead. Vandegrift went on a 10-3 run to win the set 25-21.
Vandegrift went on an 11-1 run to start the second set, despite great blocks from Morgan, Allison Waits and McKinzee Robinson. The Lady Tigers never recovered and fell in the deciding set 25-10.
The loss was quickly forgotten when Vandegrift vacated the court and Elgin took to the floor to play Belton in the final pool game of the day.
The Lady Wildcats went on a 7-0 run to start the match. Anna Becker’s serving helped get the Lady Tigers back into the match. York and Morgan each had key kills to give Belton a 17-16 lead. But a 9-3 Elgin run earned the Wildcats the decision in the first set 25-19.
After spotting Elgin the opening point of the second set, Morgan served 13 points in a row, including three aces. Waits joined in the serving success with a trio of points and was aided with kills from Bethany Goad and Jackie Wainwright. The Lady Tigers tied the match with a 25-13.
Madyson Yeager opened the deciding set with an ace and 3-0 lead. The Lady Wildcats ran up six consecutive points before Belton went on a 10-3 run to take a 13-9 lead. The teams alternated points before a series of kills by Waits, York and Robinson closed out the set and the match for the Lady Tigers, taking the final set 25-20.
The end of the opening pool day had the Lady Tigers in third place. In the Friday reseed, Belton faced St. Dominic Savio, Killeen Ellison and Sharyland Pioneer.
In the opener, Savio took the opening set 25-18 before the Lady Tigers rallied to win the match, dropping Savio 25-22 and 25-19 in the final two sets.
Belton then played District 12-6A rival Ellison. The Lady Tigers rallied to take the first set 26-24. Belton played the Lady Eagles hard over the next two sets, but fell 25-17 and 25-22 in the final two sets to drop the match.
The final game of the Friday pool was against Sharyland Pioneer. The Lady Diamondbacks took the first set 25-15. Belton fought back to take the second set 25-23 and fought Pioneer to the end, but fell in the final set 25-20.
The loss put the Lady Tigers in the Bronze Bracket, starting play on Saturday morning against Elgin.
Belton opened up impressively against the Lady Wildcats in straight sets 25-16 and 25-4.
In semi-finals, Belton faced Sharyland Pioneer for the second time in less than 24 hours. The two teams fought hard, but Pioneer outlasted the Lady Tigers in straight sets 25-18 and 25-22 to end Belton’s stay at the tournament.
The Lady Tigers moved their record to 4-6 on the season with a match with Gatesville at Tiger Gym awaiting on Tuesday night.
Belton swept by Gatesville in hard-fought match
The Belton Lady Tigers played host to the Gatesville Lady Hornets in their first home game of the 2014 season.
Although the Lady Tigers played better Tuesday night as opposed to an up-and-down Westwood Showcase Tournament, they lost to the scrappy Lady Hornets in straight sets 25-19, 25-17 and 25-22.
The loss dropped the Lady Tigers to 4-7 on the young season with the Gatesville Invitational Tournament on the horizon. The tourney is a Thursday and Saturday tournament, sandwiched around a road contest at Salado Friday evening at SHS.
The teams swapped the first eight points of the match before the Lady Hornets opened up a three-point lead at 7-4. Belton tied the score and the teams went back-and-forth again before Gatesville pulled away to win the first set by six points. Kayla McGiboney, who haranged the Lady Tigers all night, picked up four kills during the set-closing 10-4 run.
Gatesville jumped out to an early 5-2 lead in the second set before great defense by Brey York, Bethany Goad, Allison Waits and Marissa Heffley pulled the Lady Tigers into a 10-10 tie. York, Abbey Morgan and Anna Becker had solid service through the middle of the set, but the Lady Hornets pulled away on a 15-7 run to close out the set.
The Lady Hornets jumped out to an 8-3 lead before Belton head coach Stacy Meyers called a timeout to stop Gatesville’s momentum. The move worked, as great service from Becker and Morgan, along with a pair of York blocks and McKinzee Robinson kills got the Lady Tigers within one point at 19-18.
Gatesville was poised to close out the night before Jackie Wainwright’s kill temporarily kept the Lady Tigers alive at 23-22. But a pair of Gatesville points gave the Lady Hornets the set and the sweep.
Becker had 13 digs for the Lady Tigers and Madyson Yeager added six digs of her own. York had eight assists, six kills and two blocks. Robinson had eight digs, seven blocks and two kills. Morgan had nine digs and three kills. Waits had three kills and two blocks.
“Our girls are learning as they go,” said Meyers. “Are we better than over the weekend? Yes. We keep getting better every game.”
The Gatesville Tournament starts Thursday morning with a match against Troy at 9 a.m. The tournament is in a bracket format. They will take on Salado at 6:30 p.m. on Friday.
In subvarsity action, coach Jordan Petter’s junior varsity squad defeated the Lady Hornets in straight sets 25-20 and 25-19. Coach Dorothy Payne’s freshman “A” group, coming off of a tournament win in Waco over the weekend, beat Gateville 25-16, 20-25 and 25-23. The freshman “B” squad won in straight sets 25-14 and 25-22.