After getting throttled by Glen Rose in Alvarado during the first district round, the Lady Indians came calling on Tuesday and represented themselves much better.
With that being said, the Lady Tigers (20-12, 4-1) withstood the early flurry and eventually earned a four-game win – 25-23, 25-27, 25-20 and 25-12.
“Alvarado came to play,” said coach Laura Korenek. “You can tell they’ve been working and they knew what to expect from us. We didn’t hit as well, but we couldn’t miss anything the first time we played them. They did a great job of starting out intense and making us work for it.”
Sophomore Meredith Odom played well, and she credited the visitors.
“I think they got better and we didn’t play as well this time, but Alvarado did a lot better on their passing and No. 2 (Amber Chatham) can just really kill the ball,” Odom said.
Perhaps indicative of the challenge they were in for, the Lady Tigers fell behind 1-4. As Glen Rose fought back to take a 12-10 lead, Caitlin Fellers (block, kill) and Reilly Junge (kill, tip) led the way.
In a very tight game, Alvarado called a timeout down 20-23 with Fellers (2 kills) and Odom (kill, tip) stepping up for the home team.
“Aside from Caitlin, it felt like we barely had any kills in game one,” Korenek said.
Odom knew Alvarado was ready to pounce on any opportunity.
“Every time we didn’t hit at them, they just had more chances to hit back at us, which hurt our passing,” Odom said.
Coming out of the timeout, Alvarado drew as close as 23-24, but Kayla Goebel had her second kill in the span of six points to close it out (25-23).
Despite being denied in the opening game, Alvarado came firing out of the gate in game two for an 8-3 lead. Alvarado standout Chatham was serving very well and the purple squad was brimming with excitement on every successful play.
“(Chatham) is strong from the middle and a very good player, but their setter also did a really good job of getting the ball to her,” Korenek said. “Our blocks couldn’t seem to get anything up on her. Their enthusiasm went a long way for them, while we were just out there.”
The Lady Tigers fell behind 4-11, but they kept plugging away and eventually drew within 18-20 thanks in large part to Odom (3 kills), Junge (tip, ace) and Goebel (2 kills). Shelby Rotan also served up an ace, while Baylie Plaster came off the bench to fire a kill. Glen Rose had to overcome some defensive issues up front to reduce its deficit.
“I mentioned to Coach (Deanna) Bozarth that if we didn’t have so many blocking errors, they wouldn’t have so many points,” Korenek said. “We were either late or early, so they were hitting off the block and we couldn’t get a dig up off of them.”
Odom was definitely one of the more consistent kill producers on the night.
“I felt like my hitting got better as we went,” Odom said. “Me and Reilly were able to put the ball away and Caitlin also did a really good job of finding the openings in the block.”
Glen Rose would fall behind 18-23 only to see Kelsie Fleetwood serve up five-straight points for 24-23, as Plaster elevated for a block along the way. Alvarado just wouldn’t lie down, as it overcame a Junge block with consecutive blocks of its own to win the game 27-25.
“That was just about the way the ball fell,” Odom said. “If we’d played a little better, it wouldn’t have boiled down to that. Alvarado really worked hard for every point because they knew that we were the (district) team they had to beat.”
Korenek appreciated her team’s fight, even if it didn’t work out.
“I was proud of us battling back from being down 18-23 because that’s tough, but some mental mistakes allowed them to take the game,” Korenek said.
This game was close and, like game one, at least Glen Rose played from in front most of the way. On the way to 9-9, Fellers, Odom and Fleetwood each had a kill. Glen Rose went on a small run to 15-11, as Odom (block, kill) set the pace with a Junge ace and Plaster coming through with a kill.
“When you’re in front, you don’t have to worry about pushing every single point to get ahead and you just feel like you can play,” Odom said.
Although Alvarado never led in the game, it tied several times – including 20-20.
Glen Rose won the final five points of the game (25-20) to finally regain control, thanks to a Goebel kill, a Maysen Mapes ace and a Fellers kill.
“We finally started to get going a little bit; our hitting was spread out a little bit more,” Korenek said. “I expected another close game, and it wasn’t until our streak at the end when I felt (Alvarado) start to give in for the first time. Alvarado hit a lot of balls out, but they were swinging and going for shots like you have to do.”
Seeing an opportunity to put Alvarado on the ropes, Lady Tiger servers Kelsey Potter (ace) and Shelby Rotan (ace) delivered four- and five-point serving streaks, respectively, for a 15-5 advantage. Fleetwood (kill, tip, block) was really playing well, as was Junge (kill, tip).
“That was awesome to give us that huge lead; they did a really good job serving,” Odom said.
Korenek concurred with her player.
“It was huge to pounce on them like that in game four, and to not let them get anything going was very important,” the coach said.
The Lady Tigers already had three blocks in first 15 points of the game.
“We seemed to have about as many blocks in game four as the first three games combined, which got us fired up,” Korenek said.
Glen Rose kept pouring it on to 21-7, led by Odom (2 kills). Although Alvarado won some late points, the damage was done and one more Odom kill helped Glen Rose close it out (25-12).
The Lady Tigers will now travel to face district-leading Stephenville on Friday at 4:30 p.m.
“This wasn’t the best we’ve ever played, but we can buckle down and I think we can pull it out Friday,” Odom said.
Korenek expects her team to give its best shot.
“Obviously beating Stephenville is our No. 1 goal, and hopefully this (Tuesday) challenge will help prepare us mentally to compete,” she said.