|Lady Cats lose second straight home contest after 5-0 start|
|Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor|
Oct. 12, 2005 - The momentum that the Sulphur Springs Lady Cats gained by going undefeated through the first half of District 12-4A has been stymied.
The Lady Cats lost their second straight home match, falling to Texas High in four games on Tuesday by scores of 25-21, 21-25, 15-25, 24-26.
The two straight losses has dropped Sulphur Springs (5-2 in district, 20-11 overall) from alone atop the district standings into a tie for second place with North Lamar (5-2, 18-12). Greenville is now sitting in first place all alone with a 6-1, 19-10 mark.
Texas High (3-4, 17-15) kept its playoff hopes alive with the victory and put Sulphur Springs into a must-win situation Friday against Mount Pleasant (0-7, 16-15). With road games next week against North Lamar and Greenville, the Lady Cats can't afford to let Mount Pleasant slip by them.
Sulphur Springs still has a shot at a district title, but they will have to regain the momentum they used to go 5-0 through the first round of district.
It appeared the Lady Cats would be able to take care of Texas High after winning the first game behind six kills from senior Tara Gibby, but the Lady Tigers opened Game 2 on a 4-0 run and won the next three games.
Texas High controlled Game 3 from the midway point on, then scored three straight points at the end of the deciding Game 4 to overcome an SSHS lead.
Gibby had a solid night with a match-high 13 kills to go with eight points and two blocks, and senior Hailey Watson contributed five kills, 13 assists and 10 points.
But, the Lady Cats had an uneven night serving. They had 16 aces, but 12 bad serves and those miscues were important in not allowing the Lady Cats to go on extended runs in Games 2 and 3.
"We missed too many serves," said SSHS head coach John McCullough. "In the first game, we got our serves in. Every serve we got in, we got a point on except one.
"We're giving them too many opportunities, and for a while there, we didn't play well and let them get control of the game, and we never could get it back."
In Game 4, the Lady Cats opened up a four-point lead at 12-8, but Texas High scored six straight points to go up by two. The lead see-sawed back and forth until the Lady Cats got two straight kills by junior middle blocker Kayla Morgan and another by Watson to take a 19-16 advantage.
They eventually worked the lead to 23-19 before a kill by Texas High's Alex Williams started a 4-0 run by the Lady Tigers. A cross-court spike by Sulphur Springs senior Jessica Owens gave the Lady Cats game point at 24-23. The Lady Cats thought they won the game when a Texas High player appeared to push the ball across the net, which would have been a violation, but it went uncalled and Texas High won the next two points to wrap up the game.
McCullough said the match never should have gotten to that point.
"We let them in the game. We lost focus a little bit in the second game, and we let them back in," he said. "Texas High has good enough athletes that once they get in the game, it's kind of hard to stop them."
Miracle Thurston led Texas High with 10 kills, while Kelsey Harrington added nine kills and Sam Deramcy had 12 service points.
Sulphur Springs was at its best in Game 1, going on a 6-point run behind the serving of Gibby. Senior Marlee Peugh made a fantastic dig to set up Morgan for a spike during that run.
Texas High took command of Game 2 from the first point, going ahead 8-2. While Sulphur Springs came back to tie the game at 16-16 on an ace by Morgan, Texas High broke serve and went on a five-point run backed by four points from Bri Birl.
In Game 3, a spike by Gibby tied the game at 6-6, but the Lady Cats scored on their serve only once the rest of the game - on a Gibby spike and a Watson ace that pulled them to within 18-13. Texas High, however, won seven of the next nine points.
In Game 4, the Lady Cats let Texas High hang close enough to pull it out in the end.
Senior setter Laura Ream led the Lady Cats in assists with 15 and aces with four. She also had seven points. Brittany Moore added six kills and seven points, and Morgan finished with nine kills, three blocks, seven points and four aces.