GATESVILLE — Most of the patrons in Hornet Gym thought it might be a short night.
It appeared the Belton Lady Tigers would make short work of the Lady Hornets after taking the first two sets in decisive fashion. Instead, Belton waited until the fifth and final set to recapture the magic to pull out a 25-16, 25-14, 16-25, 17-25, 15-13 victory over Gatesville.
The victory was one that could provide an early turning point in the young season for the Lady Tigers.
“The best thing I saw was that we fought,” said Belton coach Stacy Meyers. “We have some genteel personalities on the team, but in their own way they know how to fight.”
Meyers, who coached against Gatesville’s Rickey Phillips for many years while both were Class 3A sparring partners during her days in China Spring, knew better than to think it would be a breeze there.
“Gatesville is a great home team. I’ve coached a lot against Rickey Phillips’ teams,” she said. “You can never expect to walk in here and come out with a win.”
It was looking perilously like the Lady Tigers (4-5) wouldn’t come out with one on this occasion, either. Gatesville took the third and fourth sets handily and had a 10-7 advantage in the fifth.
However, the Lady Tigers ran off five straight points with back-to-back kills from Allison Waits and three straight Hornet errors to make it 12-10. Belton errors allowed Gatesville to tie the score for the fifth time in the set.
Monica Gonzalez put the Lady Tigers back on top and they reached match point when Gatesville’s Robin Galiano’s attack went long. Kayla McGiboney put down a block to draw the Lady Hornets back within one, but Brieanne Brown smashed a Brey York assist to at long last finish the match.
“We were up 10-7 and we did some things that were self-inflicted,” said Phillips, whose team is now 5-6. “You can’t make mistakes like that in a big game like that. I don’t want to take anything away from Belton, but those things start to add up.”
Belton pulled away to solid wins in each of the first two sets. The Lady Tigers ran off 10 straight points in the second set on Brown’s service. The run was highlighted by a Brown ace, a scoring tip from Bailey Borger and a kill and a block from Waits.
All that went away in a hurry in the third game as McGiboney, who led all hitters with 17 kills, got hot. All that went well for the Lady Tigers got away from them and all that had gone poorly for the Lady Hornets righted itself.
“We quit shooting our dadgum toes off,” Phillips said. “We became a lot more focused stopped making mental mistakes.”
Meyers said her team simply rested on its laurels from the first two games.
“One thing we got was overconfident,” she said. “We were playing very well. We had been watching film and fixing a lot of the things that needed fixing.
“But momentum can swing everything the other way. No other sport has momentum swings like volleyball.”
Brown paced the Lady Tigers with nine kills, Kinsey Williams had 18 digs and York provided 14 assists. Brianna Poe and Lexi Hall both had five kills for the Lady Hornets and Mikayla Heckman distributed 30 assists.