By Alex Byington
Killeen Daily Herald
Harker Heights finally had one go its way.
Seemingly on the wrong end of several perceived injustices, the Lady Knights got a call in their favor midway through the fifth game and parlayed it into a five-set (25-19, 25-21, 24-26, 17-25, 15-13) victory over District 12-5A rival Ellison on Tuesday in Eagle Gym.
"I felt that the calls were a little iffy on both sides, but that call was just the extra oomph we needed to finish the game," said Heights senior setter Taylor Denney.
After an original out-of-bounds kill was overturned as a deflection against the Lady Eagles (15-12, 2-2), Heights scored six of the next eight points to pull ahead 14-9 in the fifth game before a final out-of-bounds volley by Ellison ended a last-ditch rally.
"We just picked up energy," Lady Knights senior outside hitter Bianca Patterson said. "We were slow in all of our games, even the ones we won, but we picked up energy because we wanted this game."
Trying to avenge a five-game loss to Ellison in their final district contest last season, Heights (11-11, 2-2) rallied to take the first two games before things fell apart.
"The first two games, we had the better defense moving for us, and we were able to transition off of that," Heights coach Chris Wiley said. "In Games 3 and 4, they had the better defense. They didn't let anything hit the floor, and looked outstanding."
After the Lady Eagles jumped ahead 14-4 early in Game 1, the Lady Knights went on a 13-0 run to take a lead it never surrendered thanks to 15 unforced errors by Ellison.
In a back-and-forth Game 2 that saw eight ties, Heights pulled away late on a 4-0 run that was again aided by three
consecutive Lady Eagle errors.
"The girls carry a lot of pressure on their shoulders whenever they're out there playing, and they realize when they make an error, that's a point that we can't get back unless we start pushing to win," said Ellison coach Cari Nanna.
But Ellison wasn't going away without a fight, not on their home court.
"This shows the other teams in the district that you can't come to Killeen and expect to get an easy win out of us," Nanna said. "... The girls know that's what other people think about us, and they want to put a stop to it."
Rallying from an 11-6 deficit, the Lady Eagles took advantage of several Heights miscues - including two consecutive out-of-order calls and a yellow card for Wiley - to pull even at 14-14.
The lead went back-and-forth from there until Chelsea Grant slammed home one of her nine kills to seal the 26-24 victory in Game 3.
Then, after jumping out to a 4-0 advantage, the Lady Eagles cruised in Game 4 by doubling up Heights on five separate occasions.
Things were closer in the fifth and final game. Both teams battled point-for-point with five ties before a kill by Brianna Freeman, followed by the pivotal overturned call, sent the Lady Knights to their second district victory of the year.
Patterson led the Lady Knights with 13 kills, followed by 10 from Starnisha Bodie. Denney added 25 assists while libero Amber Bailey had 14 digs.
Ellison was led with a double-double from Megan McKinnon, who had 11 kills and 12 assists. Brea Wade had a team-high 22 assists while Katie Vichensont had 25 digs ahead of 22 from Tia Scott.
"You can't control the outside factors of the game, all you can control is what's within the game, and when it came down to get it done, the girls did," Wiley said.
Contact Alex Byington at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7566.