By Kevin Posival
Killeen Daily Herald
HARKER HEIGHTS — Textbook hitting, passing and attacking was nearly the Harker Heights Lady Knights’ undoing.
The Killeen Lady Roos proved quick studies.
The 18th-ranked Lady Knights steam rolled Killeen by 13 points for a first-game win, but the Lady Roos’ defense seemingly mastered Harker Heights’ timing in Game 2 and nearly stole Game 3.
But with a little offensive tinkering, the Lady Knights rallied from four-point deficit, scored nine of the final 11 points in Game 3 to sweep the visiting Lady Roos 25-12, 25-18, 25-18 on Tuesday night in their District 8-5A home-opener.
“When we noticed (Killeen’s defensive adjustment), we started running quicker plays and fakes so that put us back on track,” said Harker Heights senior middle blocker Deysia Burden. “We gained our momentum back and just kept going from there.”
Burden led the Lady Knights (26-3, 2-0) with nine kills, six blocks and four digs.
Anjane Janda had eight kills and an ace, Katie Shulte had 29 assists and Jordan Denney had nine digs. Chalon Anderson led Killeen (17-19, 0-2) with five kills and seven digs. Esha Atkins had four kills and a block, Johlicia Williams had four blocks and Kiana Ware had six digs.
Harker Heights used 12 kills and a hand full of aces to cruise in Game 1 and led by as many as 11 early in Game 2 before Killeen’s blockers better timed their blocks attempts.
Killeen clawed back to within five, 23-18, on Williams’ block and a plethora of hustle plays on defensive plays. But Burden used a kill and a block to stymie the Lady Roos’ rally.
“I felt like we did a good job making the adjustments we needed to make. It’s a rivalry. All of the Killeen schools are going to play like that — there’s that pride factor in it,” said Harker Heights coach Chris Wiley. “We made our adjustments, took our points when we needed to get them. We had to play out some long points, but that’s what makes us better in the long run.”
Even though Harker Heights’ counter-adjustment was good enough to hold onto their Game 2 lead, the Lady Roos’ confidence brought a new level of intensity to the third game.
“In every game, I felt like the girls went all-out hustle to get to the ball, every single game. If this team would show up every match, there’s no telling what we could do,” said Killeen coach Shelly Harris.
Killeen pulled away for an early 7-3 lead on an Anderson kill and maintained a lead of some sort until Harker Heights’ 6-1 run that gave the Lady Knights their first lead, 16-15, after a net ball by Killeen. Even so, Harker Heights couldn’t completely shake Killeen.
The Lady Knights led 20-16 following a kill by Kathleen Janda, but a rotation error and net ball put Killeen right back to within striking range, 20-18.
Anjane Janda stopped the backslide with a kill and an ace and back-to-back hitting errors by the Lady Roos helped Harker Heights close out the sweep.
“The simple little things (cost us) and they tend to let those, in their mind, become huge things instead of ‘We missed one pass, well, we’re going to get this next pass and we’re going to set it up,’” Harris said. “In my opinion, it’s the little things. They think they’re huge mountains and they’re not.”
Contact Kevin Posival at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7562