MIDLOTHIAN — The third-ranked Glen Rose Lady Tigers captured their second consecutive undefeated District 8-4A volleyball campaign and third league crown in four years with a gutty 25-12, 20-25, 20-25, 25-13, 15-13 road win over No. 4 Midlothian Heritage Tuesday night.
With the victory, the Lady Tigers ended the regular season 43-1 and 12-0 in district play to earn the district’s No. 1 seed for the playoffs.
The Lady Jaguars fell to 30-3 overall — and all three of their losses were to Glen Rose. Heritage enters the playoffs as the district’s No. 2 seed, followed by Stephenville and Waxahachie Life School.
In the last two seasons, the Lady Tigers have only dropped only four sets in district play and all four have been to Midlothian Heritage.
“It is exciting for our program and I’m glad we can close the season out and move ahead to what’s next,” Glen Rose volleyball coach Sandy Langford said. “We now enter the playoff season and it’s 0-0 and everyone can play. We have business to take care of and a dream to chase, and we’re not backing down.”
The Lady Tigers finished 40-4 last season and bowed out of the playoffs in the regional final to eventual state champion Bushland.
Glen Rose will open the playoffs with either Castleberry or Benbrook in the first round next week. The two teams tied for third and fourth in District 7-4A.
In front of a raucous crowd Tuesday night, Glen Rose forced a fifth set against the Lady Jags. With the set tied at 7, the Lady Jags took a commanding 10-7 lead thanks to two Glen Rose errors and a kill, and at that point, Langford called timeout.
“I told them it was our game, and that we wouldn’t let any other team steal our game from (us) and why were we letting them do that now,” she said. “I told them we had to execute on our side and do our job and the rest would follow.”
The Lady Tigers battled back and tied the set at 10 on a kill by Libby Hinton, a service ace by Emma Bozarth and a solo block by Hinton, who had a team-high six blocks in the match.
With the set tied at 13, the reigning District 8-4A MVP Logan Smith recorded back-to-back kills to give the Lady Tigers the 15-13 win.
The Lady Tigers, who are 2-0 in five-set matches this year, were led by Smith with 21 kills, while Hinton added 11 as did Bryanna Lytle.
After beating the Lady Jags handily, 25-12, in the first set in which the Lady Jags committed 15 errors, the Lady Tigers painted themselves in a corner by losing the next two.
“In the second and third games we allowed them to set the tempo of the game to a slower pace than we wanted,” Langford said. “We knew this was their game plan, and we talked about it and how it forced us to become timid.”
Despite losing the two sets, the Lady Tigers began regaining the momentum it had in the first set.
“The last half of the third game we started getting our wheels spinning a little faster and that helped us gain the confidence we needed in the fourth and fifth sets,” Langford said. “We picked up the pace and played with our tempo and forced them to make quicker decisions than they are used to.”
A kill by Smith opened Set 4 for the Lady Tigers. With Lytle serving, they reeled off five straight points — two more kills by Smith and one each from Lytle and Hinton — to build a 6-0 lead.
The Lady Jags never got closer than four points in the set. Smith had five kills and a solo block in the set, while Hinton had four kills and Lytle had three.
Ally Andress recorded five kills and four blocks in the match, while Bozarth notched a team-high 28 assists and Mallory Rogers added 17.