HARKER HEIGHTS — Harker Heights Kathleen Janda created her own offense.
The Lady Knights junior middle blocker set up her own kill shot by tipping a Jewett Leon attack attempt.
Blake Filip followed with an ace for Harker Heights to finish off the 1A No. 3 Lady Cougars as the tournament host won the Pure Energy Classic volleyball tournament on Saturday.
“Our front line is one of two huge parts of our defense. If our front line’s working and we’re blocking the way we need to be blocking, we can be lights out, that’s all there is to it,” said Harker Heights coach Chris Wiley.
The Lady Knights (23-3) staved off Leon’s rally in Game 1 to build momentum and an insurmountable lead in Game 2 en route to their 27-25, 25-14 championship match win.
“We practice (defense) constantly. And serving. Defense and serving, that is what we base everything on and I thank Coach Wiley for that because he is really building this for us,” said Heights setter Katie Schulte, who won the tournament MVP award. “I think we’re just so well-rounded, I think we take it all the way (to the playoffs).”
Ellison lost to Marble Falls to finish fourth; Salado placed fifth and Shoemaker won the consolation bracket.
In the championship match, Schulte led Harker Heights with 20 assists, Janda finished with eight kills and 4½ blocks and Jordan Denney had 18 digs. Also for Harker Heights, which opens its District 8-5A schedule on Friday at Temple, Deysia Burden had four blocks, Caitlyn Young had 14 digs and Anjane Janda had seven kills.
“This is going to let everyone know who we are and how much we want this, how much we want to be in the playoffs,” Janda said.
Harker Heights fought off two game points and took a 25-24 lead in Game 1 on a Filip ace. The Lady Cougars answered with a Shar Hastings kill, but Kathleen Janda’s kill reclaimed a one-point Heights lead before a ball in the net by Leon gave the Lady Knights the win.
“They’re always going to come to play, they’re always going to come to fight,” Wiley said of Leon. “I knew that first game was going to be a dogfight the whole way through and we just kept fighting and kept playing. But, that’s our mental attitude this year: we don’t quit, we don’t give up and no lead insurmountable.”
Heights was on the reverse side of that in Game 2.
After building a 17-6 lead, Leon clawed back to within five, 18-13, on a kill by Avery Robinson. The Lady Cougars, though, committed too many mistakes down the stretch to complete the comeback. Heights scored three of the next four points on Leon errors to take a 21-14 lead and Filip closed out the win from the service line.
Ellison falls to Marble Falls in third-place match
Malaysia Hope had 25 assists and Kaitlyn Shearer had 11 blocks and seven kills, but the Lady Eagles lost to Marble Falls in three games in the third-place match, 25-19, 15-24, 25-22.
“They fought and that’s what I like about them,” Ellison coach William DeGracia said of Ellison’s Game 2 win. “The motivation was still there.”
Christen Richardson had nine digs and Brianna Gray and Kortni Taylor each had six kills for Ellison (10-11), which beat Salado 25-21 and 25-15 in the first round Saturday, but lost to Leon in the tournament semifinals (25-22, 25-18).
Salado finishes in fifth place
Shyenne Hicks had 10 kills, Hanah Perkins had 12 assists and Katie Kunz had six digs to lead Salado to a 25-17, 25-20 win over Manor in the fifth-place game on Saturday.
Salado (9-11), playing without standout Sarah Toler who was resting to ease tendonitis pain in her wrist, lost to Ellison in its first game of the day, but finished the tournament with consecutive wins. The Lady Eagles beat Lorena 25-17, 25-22 to advance to the fifth-place match.
“It’s been a long first week of school and matches and three weekends of tournaments, so I think when you’re that far in and you’re coming home with a trophy and your kids are motivated at the end of the day to win, we’re doing great,” said Salado coach Rachel Lee.
Shoemaker wins consolation
Tearra Roberson had eight kills, Akiera Spear had 10 assists and Naiya Porell had four aces to lead the Lady Grey Wolves to a 25-16, 25-12 win over Lampasas in the tournament consolation championship.
Roberson also had three blocks and three aces for Shoemaker (10-7), which beat Marlin 25-12, 25-23 in their 8 a.m. match Saturday.
“After our first game, even though we won, I took them outside and kind of chewed them out. I said, ‘We can never play offense, we have to be in defensive mode in every match we play.’ As long as we’re playing defense, we’re doing well,” Shoemaker coach Merdith Shaw-Moore said. “They took that and they transpired it to the floor.”