After Kathleen Janda slapped the ball to the floor one last time in 2013, the rest of Harker Heights’ disappointing season didn’t matter.
Not to Janda, who had the final kill in a 25-21, 16-25, 25-23, 25-15 victory against Killeen that helped Heights end its season with two straight wins after it had lost six straight.
Neither Heights (14-21, 4-10 in District 8-5A) nor Killeen (12-16, 5-9) had a shot at the playoffs entering Tuesday, but that didn’t stop the teams from playing an inspired match with bodies crashing all over the Killeen gym floor and the Heights bench erupting on the final point.
“We just really wanted to really celebrate our last game with a good victory,” Janda said.
Janda certainly did her part, with a team-high 10 kills, five aces and two blocks.
Aces played a huge role for Heights, which had five as a team in the opening set and 14 total in the match.
“This is by far the best game we’ve played in district,” Heights coach Chris Wiley said.
Killeen, as it has been most of the season, was unfazed by the early adversity and raced out to a 25-16 win in the second set to knot up the match.
Even after Heights went ahead early in the next set — and later scored five of six points after the Lady Roos had pulled within 16-14 — Killeen battled all the way back to take its first lead of the set at 22-21 on a kill by junior Sabrina Garcia, who had 11 in the match.
But the Lady Knights responded by scoring three straight, including an ace by Janda that gave them the lead for good, ultimately taking the set 25-23.
“I wanted to end my senior year with a win,” Janda said, “and I knew that I would do all I could do to make that happen.”
Heights ran away with the final set to take the match despite 15 kills from Killeen senior Chalon Anderson and 22 assists from sophomore Madison Sapp, who also added four aces.
“Chalon always comes out and fights hard,” Lady Roo coach Shelly Harris said. “It was a team effort — we just did not, as a team, do it tonight.”
For Heights, the match wasn’t just a positive note to end the season on, but it was also retribution for a five-set loss to Killeen earlier in the season.
The Lady Roos rallied from down 0-2 on the Lady Knights’ home floor to take that match.
“This one’s big,” Wiley said. “It’s an in-town rivalry, they came to our place and got us the first time. ... so this was big.”
It didn’t get any bigger for Janda and her senior classmates, and it was the perfect ending.
“It felt fantastic,” Janda said of the final point of her high school career. “I ended my senior year the way I wanted to: with a kill.”
Contact Jordan Mason at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-501-7562