“We feel that we had a slow start coming off some good wins in our tournament. I am proud of our girls for pulling it back together to get a victory over a good team,” said Pettus head coach Erica Garza.
Set one on Tuesday night was close through the first few minutes and was tied at 13-13 before the Lady Cats went on a decisive run. Four straight points off the serve of Amber Hughlett gave the visitors a small cushion at 17-13. At 18-15, the Lady Cats captured the next four points off the serve of Dolores Hinojosa to take final control of set one. The final score of 25-19 gave the S-T girls the 1-0 lead over their county rivals.
Set two was a different story. The Lady Eagles were more focused and played much better. Serves that sailed wide in set one were hit hard and into play almost every time. The Pettus defense was tight and never seemed to let a ball drop to the floor.
It was still close through the midway of set two. The Lady Eagles held a one- or two-point lead through 14-12. From there, the Lady Eagles raced away for a 25-16 victory, outscoring S-T 13-6 down the stretch to even the best-of-five match 1-1. The service games of Amanda Escandon, Tristian Moore, Madi Garza, Destiny Carrillo and others led the way. Sarah Hunter and Ryan Grayson controlled the net for the Lady Eagles and put away shot after shot to help get the win.
Set three was dominated by the home team. Again, the strong service game was the key along with a staunch defense. The Lady Eagles led easily 8-1 early on and then cruised for a 25-10 victory to grab the lead in the match at two games to one.
Set four had the Lady Cats and Lady Eagles battling the whole way. Pettus went up 7-3, but the Lady Cats battled back point by point to pull even at 12-12 midway through the contest.
One point separated the two teams most of the rest of the way. Pettus slowly pulled away from a one-point lead at 18-17 to take a 22-17 advantage. Grayson put a kill shot on the floor to make it 23-18, and the Lady Eagles went on to run out the set at 25-20 at capture the match.
“Any time a team wins the first game and then loses three straight shows a serious lack of mental toughness. Our team knows that we have to work hard every day to become mentally stronger,” said S-T head coach Tim Stowe.
“Especially if we want to win district games.”
Stowe embraced the rivalry and liked the loud gym and fans of the Lady Eagles.
“The environment in Pettus was great for us. The crowd was loud, and that was a great home court advantage for them. I told our team during a timeout that this is the type of environment that our district games will be,” Stowe said.
“So we have to learn to block out the crowd, clear the mechanisms and play the game. I feel that, as the season goes on, our young team will learn to do that.”
Grayson led the Lady Eagles with six kills and six blocks in the match. Madi Garza set well with 11 assists on the night.
For the Lady Cats, Amy Berthold led the team in kills with four, and Miranda Tagle served for two aces.
The Lady Eagles played in Karnes City on Friday night and will travel to Prairie Lea on Tuesday evening.
The Lady Cats hosted Ben Bolt on Friday.