Lady Tigers tame Mustangs
"That was fun. We like that one." The Nevada Lady Tigers and head coach Becky Lowery took full advantage of their shot at revenge against the Lady Mustangs of McDonald County High School at Wynn Gymnasium Thursday night.
Head coach Bev Goff's Lady Mustangs came into the night looking to repeat the performance that earned them a strong two-set victory in Anderson, Mo., on Oct. 8, but that was not to be as the Lady Tigers played with the most intensity they had exhibited nearly all year long on their way to a three-set win by the final scores of 26-24, 20-25 and 25-17.
The last time the two teams met, the Lady Tigers fought their way through a close battle, only to succumb to poor passing in the end, ultimately allowing the Lady Mustangs to pick up the victory. The Lady Tigers seemed to have revenge on their minds as they returned home and showed the very intense play that Lowery has known they are capable of all season.
The first set of Thursday's match went much the same as the opener last week as the Lady Tigers found themselves in an intense, up-and-down battle. After McDonald County utilized a five-point run to work their way out to a 5-1 lead, the Lady Tigers came to life.
After allowing the Lady Mustangs to hold their lead at four points, the Lady Tigers mounted a 6-0 run of their own to take a 12-10 lead. The match went back and forth from that point on, with the two teams trading the lead on several occasions.
The Lady Tigers began a short run late in the opening set, seemingly putting the game away, but the Lady Mustangs quickly came back and forced the set into extra points. The Lady Tigers were ultimately able to finish the job, taking the opener by a final score of 26-24.
The second set saw the Lady Tigers fall into one of their patented mid-match slumps and McDonald County took advantage. The slump didn't reach the magnitude that the Lady Tigers have seen on many occasions this year, but it was enough for McDonald County to earn a victory.
"Even the second game where we kind of dropped down a little bit, we still played pretty good," Lowery said. "So, overall, we're pretty happy."
The Lady Tigers got off to a strong start in the second set that was much similar to the first, but allowed McDonald County to mount a 4-0 run to take a 14-10 lead and were never able to recover. The Lady Tigers did work their way back to within one at 19-18, but the Lady Mustangs used another 4-0 run to regain their four-point lead at 24-20.
The Lady Tigers were unable to score again in the set, ultimately giving the Lady Mustangs a 25-20 victory.
Fans from Nevada and McDonald County alike had already become spoiled by some very intense play that featured long rallies, very good blocking and a number of impressive digs and that continued right through the third and final set.
The final set stayed even throughout nearly the entire duration with neither team taking more than a four-point lead through the first two-thirds of the set. The biggest lead for either team in the opening half of the set was when the Lady Tigers utilized two separate runs of two and five points to take a 12-8 lead.
The Lady Tigers were able to maintain a two- to four-point lead through the remainder of the set until mounting another strong 4-0 run to extend their advantage to six at 21-15. The Lady Mustangs were unable to make any kind of comeback from that point on, allowing Nevada to take the victory by a final score of 25-17.
Mariah Mock had a career night in Thursday's match, finishing the contest with team highs in blocks with 10 and kills with 14. "She did a pretty good job at the net," Lowery said of her senior middle hitter. "They (the Lady Mustangs) made a comment that kind of got her fired up before the game and you don't want to do that to her."
Several other players had very strong nights for the Lady Tigers, including Marisa Hughes and Lauren Klinksick, who combined for eight digs. Hughes led the team as she finished the night with five digs.
"We covered a lot of ground. We got some awesome digs," Lowery said. "Marisa Hughes and Lauren Klinksick got some great digs tonight."
As a team, the Lady Tigers recorded a total of 10 aces on the night, led by Megan Harper's four.
The Lady Tigers' JV and freshman squads were both in action on the night as well and the JV had similar luck on the night, winning their match by the final scores of 25-19 and 25-20. Freshman scores were unavailable.
With that win, the Lady Tigers improved to 9-10 on the year and are scheduled to be in action again on Saturday as they head to Harrisonville, Mo., for the Harrisonville Invitational tournament.