Tie-Breaker: Lady Cats own second place with thrilling five-game victory over Texas High
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

Oct. 13, 2004 - TEXARKANA - Frustrated by a Texas High comeback that included a disputed call that ended game four Tuesday night, the Sulphur Springs Lady Cats got refocused in the nick of time.

With the match tied a two games apiece and Texas High leading 7-2 in the deciding fifth game, SSHS coach John McCullough called a timeout to settle his girls down.

The Lady Cats then broke serve, won four points in a row, and see-sawed back and forth with Texas High until breaking a 14-14 tie in exciting fashion with two straight points on a kill by Kayla Morgan and a spike from Stephanie Kethley that the Lady Tigers couldn't return.

It added up to a 25-15, 25-21, 20-25, 23-25, 16-14 victory for the Lady Cats that puts them one win away from wrapping up a playoff spot.

It was an emotional win as well for the Lady Cats (5-2 in district, 14-11 overall) who broke a tie for second place with Texas High (4-3, 11-12).

"In the fifth game, we were kind of scrambling - everybody was throwing arms everywhere - and we just refocused and learned we can't play when we're frustrated," said senior Betsy Blount, who led the team with 19 assists. "Coach McCullough called a timeout and told us to take a couple of breathers and calm down. It got us refocused and got our minds back in the game. I felt once we got on that run and started coming back, I knew then we were going to be able to come back and get it."

The match took on the mirror image of the teams' first meeting in Sulphur Springs when the visitors won the first two games, the home team won the next two, and the final game was decided by two points with the visitors winning.

"With Texas High and us, I don't think you can find two more even teams," McCullough said. "You look up in game five and Texas High has all the momentum and the score was 7-2. It looked pretty bleak, but you've got to give our girls credit. They really came back together, got their composure back and finished out the game."

After Sulphur Springs broke serve, they were able to finally pull ahead, 13-10 on a block by junior Tara Gibby, who led the team with five blocks and 12 kills, but Texas High came back to tie the game at 13-13.

Sulphur Springs senior NeNe Hynson then dinked a point, but Texas High won the next point to tie it at 14-14 and were serving. Morgan (seven kills, four blocks), though, tipped a Blount assist past a double block to set up the winning point.

After the first two games, it didn't appear that SSHS would need five games to win. They dominated game one, wining the final seven points on serves by junior Marlee Peugh, who finished with 11 points. The final point came on a block by NeNe Hynson, who had five kills as well.

The Lady Cats won the next game by taking eight of nine points in the middle of the contest. The run started with a back row attack from Christina Patchen, featured aces by Peugh and Gibby, and continued with a back row kill from senior Casey Carper.

Carper had a solid all-around game, finishing with 27 digs, 12 service points, four aces and two back row kills. Patchen had a team-high 13 points to go with 10 kills. Kethley added six kills, and Hailey Watson had 10 assists.

Texas High, though, won game three with seven of their first nine points coming via kills. Angela Sheppard led the Lady Tigers with 13 kills, while Miracle Thurston had 13, and Briauna Birl had seven kills and six blocks.

SSHS took back the net in game four, with 15 kills in that game alone, including five from Gibby, who tied the game at 23-23 with a spike. With the Lady Tigers leading, 24-23, it appeared Gibby tied the game with another hard kill, but she was ruled to have hit the net.

McCullough argued that it was a Texas High player in the net, but to no avail. That carried over to the beginning of game five.

"We kind of lost our composure a little bit because they were still feeling the effects of the questionable call at the end of game four of being in the net. I called a timeout and just said, 'Forget about that. Let's just relax and play,' " McCullough said.

"They did. They refocused and got it back together."

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