AZLE — Facing a 2-1 deficit against Argyle in Tuesday night’s region quarterfinal match in the Class 4A volleyball playoffs, the decision was simple: win the next two sets or go home for good.
“We had no choice but to take control offensively if we wanted to win,” Glen Rose volleyball coach Sandy Langford said.
The eighth-ranked Lady Tigers (36-7) responded and beat the Lady Eagles (26-18) in the final two sets to take a 25-11, 21-25, 25-27, 25-19, 15-13 victory at Azle High School to advance to the regional semifinals for the fifth consecutive season.
The win also has a degree of revenge, too. The Lady Eagles eliminated the then-No. 2 Lady Tigers in last year’s state semifinals also in five sets in only their second loss of the season.
“It feels so dang good not just that it was Argyle, but that we battled mentally through a close five-set game,” Langford said.
It was the Lady Tigers’ fourth five-set match of the year and they are 3-1 in those matches.
Senior Logan Smith paced the Lady Tigers with 25 kills, 23 digs and four blocks, while senior Libby Hinton added 20 kills and six blocks and senior Bryanna Lytle added 13 kills, 11 digs and two blocks.
Senior setter Mallory Rogers set a school record with 63 assists to go along with 17 digs, and senior libero Maddie Mooney had 19 digs in the five-set thriller.
Junior Hailey Ibarra had 15 digs, and junior Hanna Griffin had seven kills, including match point in Game 5, and four blocks, while Alexis Mims had four blocks as well.
The Lady Tigers will take on Canyon (23-17), the District 3-4A champion, at noon at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene.
For Langford, she’s never missed a regional semifinal in her coaching career at Nocona and Glen Rose.
“I have always been blessed with hard-working girls who are fighters and never give up,” she said.
The Lady Tigers trailed 5-2 in the first set, but after tying the score at 6-6, Rogers served eight straight points to give Glen Rose the 14-8 advantage, and they cruised to the 25-11 win.
The Lady Eagles, the District 8 co-champion, battled back and won the next two sets 25-21 and then 27-25.
Glen Rose led 11-7 in the second set, but Argyle scored five straight to take the lead for good and eventually tie the match at 1-1.
The Lady Tigers led by as many as three points at 19-16 late in Game 3 only to see the Lady Eagles soar back to take the lead at 22-21. The set was tied at 22-22 and 23-23 before the Lady Tigers got a set point at 24-23 but couldn’t finish it off.
With the score tied at 25, Argyle got the last two points to take a commanding 2-1 lead in the match.
“We never got on a roll offensively,” Langford said of the second- and third-set lull. “Although we stayed ahead or even with them, nothing we did was more than one or two in a row. We were rotating faster than I wanted in some rotations and too slow in others.”
The Lady Tigers never trailed in the 25-19 fourth-set win (though it was tied once at 14-14) behind five kills each from Hinton and Smith and three from Griffin.
The decisive fifth set was tied at 9-9 and a setter dump by Rogers gave the Lady Tigers the lead for good. They eventually led 13-10 before Argyle fought back and trimmed the lead to 13-12. Smith and Griffin scored two of the game’s last three points to secure the win.
“They knew the pressure they feel are not just during the games but all of the expectations,” Langford said. “They are mature enough to understand they are fully capable of performing and executing on not only the physical but mental level of the game.”