HARKER HEIGHTS — It wasn’t a perfect match, but when Belton needed it, the Lady Tigers responded emphatically to every challenge by Harker Heights in a 23-25, 25-14, 25-14, 25-18 victory at Heights Gym.
After losing the opening set, the Lady Tigers (23-12, 8-4 in District 8-5A) swept the next three, thanks to 5-0, 6-0 and 8-0 runs in the last three sets, respectively.
The win clinched a playoff spot for Belton after a disappointing start to the match.
“We were like (we need to) get it together,” Belton junior McKinzee Robinson said. “So we just made ourselves work.”
Heights (12-21, 2-10) erased an 11-6 deficit then held off Belton for a 25-23 victory in the opening set, which ended with the home crowd, and seemingly all the momentum, squarely on the side of the Lady Knights.
But when Belton went up 11-6 again in the second set, the Lady Knights weren’t able to rally a second time.
“I feel like, overall, we played a pretty good match,” Heights coach Chris Wiley said. “Belton’s a good defensive team. They do a lot of things that other teams in this district don’t, and they’re getting much, much better at it in just the two years that coach (Stacy) Meyers has been there.”
When Heights pulled within 11-9 on consecutive blocks by junior Karissa Heagans, Belton responded with a 5-0 run that helped it run away with the set to knot up the match.
The next set saw five ties before Belton inched ahead 15-12. The Lady Tigers then scored six of the next seven points, including a spurt that saw Robinson go on a personal run with a block, a kill and a second block.
“I felt really good,” said Robinson, who had 11 kills in the match. “I felt like I can probably do anything, to be honest.”
But Belton hadn’t played its most impressive volleyball yet, as the final set saw the Lady Tigers score seven of the set’s first 10 points and later unleash an 8-0 run to help them coast to a 25-18 victory.
Sophomore Allison Waits had most of her six kills in the final set as did senior Brieanne Brown, who had a team-high 13 kills and four digs. Senior Bailey Borger also added 17 assists.
“They were being aggressive when they needed to be aggressive, and smart when they needed to be smart,” Meyers said. “They were making good decisions.
“On that kind of stuff, we were playing better defense, adjusting a little bit better to some things.”
Senior Kathleen Janda led Harker Heights with 12 kills on the night while senior Pam Alvarado and junior Paola Alvarado had 14 and 13 kills, respectively.
Belton will host Killeen in its next match while Harker Heights will host Temple, both on Friday.