By Tony Adams
In sports, there is losing and there is getting beat. It’s all about the who you face and how you play them.
The Belton Lady Tigers’ volleyball stood tall with the Waco University Lady Trojans on Tuesday night at Tiger Gym in the final test before the District 12-6A schedule commences at Belton High School on Friday.
The teams tangled, with the Lady Trojans winning in four sets. The scores were 21-25, 21-25, 29-27 and 19-25.
In the first set, Belton jumped out to a 3-1 lead. McKinzee Robinson had a solid start to the match with a key block and kill. University caught Belton and the teams see-sawed until the score was 11-11. Belton moved ahead 16-13 before the Lady Trojans 5-0 run shot University in front 18-16. Belton tied the score at 21-21, but University closed out the set with four straight points to claim the first stanza.
The Lady Tigers nearly let University run and hide in the second set. After Belton’s Brianna Farrell served the first point, University sent on a 6-0 run. Robinson and Jackie Wainwright teamed up on a block to stop the run. Abbey Morgan and Allison Waits added kills to bring the Lady Tigers back to within two points at 8-6. The Lady Trojans built a five-point lead at 16-11 before Belton kept chipping away at University. Audrey Linder and Chloe Bush’s serving and clutch attacks by Robinson, Morgan and Bethany Goad brought the Lady Tigers to within a single point at 20-19. But a 5-2 run closed out the second set and put University up 2-0 in sets.
Setter Brey York returned to the lineup for the first time in two weeks following a knee injury and was given a roaring ovation by the Belton faithful. University interrupted the ovation with a 5-0 run to start the third set. Waits had a string of three kills and a block to tie the score at 6-6. She had another two kills and a block in a 4-0 run, as Belton moved out to a 17-13 lead.
A strange occurance happened with the score at 17-14. A high volley carried the ball into the rafters at Tiger Gym, hit three volleyball banners, two high beams, a raised up basketball goal and a speaker during a crazy point. Belton hung with the ball and ended up winning the point.
University made a hard charge with the Lady Tigers up 21-17, making a 7-2 run and putting the Lady Tigers on the brink of a sweep. Morgan’s attack made the score 24-24 and a York serve made the score 25-24 Belton. University benefitted from a light carom and a pair of points to put Belton back on the bubble at 26-25. A University service error and lifting violation gave Belton a 27-26 lead. Andrea Penny’s block tied the game at 27-27 before a service error and side out gave the Lady Tigers a hard-fought 29-27 edge in the set, pushing the match to a fourth set.
In the fourth set, the Lady Trojans jumped out to a 3-1 lead. Belton, behind Robinson and Morgan’s serving and key blocks from Morgan and Kelsie Jones, gave the Lady Tigers a 6-4 lead. Justice McGowan continued to hammer away at Belton with kill after kill, spawning a 18-6 stretch to open the University advantage to 10 points at 22-12.
After a timeout, Belton pieced together their final charge. Waits had a block and kill and Wainwright had a kill to bring the Lady Tigers back to within five at 24-19. But a McGowan kill shot knocked Morgan down just off the corner to end the match.
Waits and Robinson each had nine kills. Waits added three blocks and Robinson added four aces. Anna Becker had nine digs and Linder chipped in five digs for Belton.
The team looked much more relaxed against University than a week ago, where they were swept by China Spring and two weeks ago when they were swept at Lorena.
“We taught focus a lot this week in practice,” said Belton head coach Stacy Meyers. “And relaxing and remembering that this is a fun game. They were laid back. They would make a mistake and then they would recover. They didn’t carry the mistakes with them.”
Harker Heights begins the Tigers’ trail through the District 12-6A schedule.
“Heights has the heighth, maybe not the power that University does,” said Meyers. “They are going to be bigger and athletic. We’ll have to take the things we learned from this game and carry them on to the Heights game.”
The varsity game against Harker Heights will begin at 5:30 p.m. at Tiger Gym.
In the subvarsity games, the junior varsity fell in straight sets 25-19 and 25-17. In the freshman game, they swept University 25-9 and 25-6.