By Angie Brushwood (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
The Hillcrest Lady Hornets defeated the Waynesville Lady Tigers in three sets on Thursday night, 2-1. The Lady Tigers fought hard, pushing the Lady Hornets past the 30-point mark in the first set, 31-29.
Hillcrest took an early 7-2 lead in the first set. The Lady Tigers went on a 14-2 streak, widening the score to 16-9. Junior Gracie Hutchinson served five aces for the Lady Tigers in that run. The Lady Hornets’ offense came alive after a timeout, tying the game at 20-all.
That’s when things got interesting.
The Lady Hornets and Lady Tigers stayed within one point of each other, pushing past the 25-point mark to tie at 29-all on Jocelyn Tidwell’s kill. Tidwell followed with another point at the net, 30-29. The game point came after a long and wild back and forth volley, finally stopped on a defensive error by the Lady Tigers, 31-29.
Tidwell scored five of her 19 kills for the Lady Hornets during that streak of tied scores.
“Their (Waynesville’s) block was really big. So we had to work on hitting around that and tipping over it. They did really good tonight,” Tidwell said.
Hillcrest coach Robin Collins knows a long game will show how well a team has trained.
“It’s been a while since we had to play to that,” said Collins. “But that’s when all your conditioning comes into play, and you hope you have your kids trained for the right moment, the right opportunity.”
After such an exciting and disappointing end to the first set, the Lady Tigers showed no signs of backing down in the second matchup. The margin did not exceed two points most of the set, and the Lady Tigers trailed 18-16 after a point by Jolene Tidwell for the Lady Hornets.
The Lady Tigers went on a 9-2 streak, fueled by three consecutive aces from freshman Aldon Pilz, and finished the second set 25-20 over the Lady Hornets.
With the Lady Hornets leading 15-12 in the third set, Waynesville’s Olivia Grandberry kept them within striking range with a kill, 15-13. But the Lady Hornets were finished taking turns. Three aces, two more kills by Tidwell and one by Jolene Tidwell, and a defensive pushback that went into the bleachers on the Lady Hornets’ 24th point, Hillcrest sealed the set and the match, 25-15.
Waynesville coach Sarah Covey has high expectations for the Lady Tigers.
“We’re young still,” said Covey. “Something that we have improved tremendously this season compared to last season is fighting for every point. Last season, the story of our lives was we almost won. Now, we’re pushing. We’re winning sets. With a loss tonight, this is our learning opportunity. We take every loss at the beginning of the season, and we grow from it. We will peak at the right time.”
Hillcrest 31 20 25
Waynesville 29 25 15
Hillcrest: Jocelyn Tidwell – 19 kills; Lakin Barrett – 29 assists; Jocelyn Tidwell – 22 digs