A wave of relief washed over Belton senior Monica Gonzalez after putting down the kill that finally put away Killeen on Tuesday.
Outside of a dominating win in the opening set, putting away the Lady Roos didn’t come easily for the visiting Lady Tigers.
But in the end, thanks to a strong effort by Gonzalez late in the match, Belton was able to pull out the hotly-contested match in a 25-10, 19-25, 25-21, 28-26 victory at Killeen gym.
Belton (19-10, 4-2 in District 8-5A) seemed poised to run away with the final set like it did the first, using an 8-0 run to go up 10-2, with the lead eventually swelling to 15-5.
But Killeen (8-11, 1-5) began slowly chipping away at the deficit, overcoming multiple Belton attempts to try to pull away before finally tying it at 22-22.
The rest of the set was a war, in which Killeen had set point twice, only for Gonzalez to end the match emphatically with her 10th kill.
“I just wanted to finish it,” said Gonzalez, who also had seven blocks, “I knew it shouldn’t have been as close as it was, so that adrenaline just kind of goes through you, and it’s like, ‘We’re going to get this win, and I’m going to be the one to do it.’”
Despite falling behind by at least 10 points in the first and final sets, Killeen coach Shelly Harris was happy with the Lady Roos’ resiliency after the match.
“I was extremely proud of them,” Harris said. “They could’ve just layed down and died whenever we were so far behind, but they want to win — they’re working together, they want to win.”
Chalon Anderson led the way for Killeen with 17 kills and 17 assists while Madison Sapp added 29 assists.
Belton cruised to a first-set victory thanks to an incredible start from senior Brieanne Brown, who had all six of her aces, including four straight, in the opening set.
The sixth ace put Belton up 18-4 as the Lady Tigers also took advantage of Killeen miscues.
“Defensively, we’ve got to do a better job of getting in position to cover whenever they’re attacking on the ball,” Harris said.
Yet it was Killeen taking a 10-5 lead to start the second set before Belton battled back to tie it at 11.
Belton went up briefly before Killeen knotted the score at 17. The Lady Roos went on to score eight of the next 10 points to take the set and tie the match.
For Belton coach Stacy Meyers, it was a case of incosistency that has plagued her team at times this season.
“We just let them stay in the game, and we should’ve never done that,” Meyers said. “If we had played with intensity the whole match, like we did in the first game, it would’ve been a different game.”
Instead, the teams battled to six ties in the third set with Belton finally scoring two straight to go up 19-17.
The Lady Tigers went on to hold off the Lady Roos, 25-21, setting up the final set and Gonzalez’s heroics.
“(Gonzalez) had a lot of the kills at the end of the game when we needed them,” Meyers said. “And the rest of us weren’t getting it done when we needed to, and she did, so I thought she did a great job.”