Texas High remained in a tie for the District 16-5A volleyball lead after disposing of Sulphur Springs in five hard-fought sets.
The Lady Tigers scored the final six points of the match, Vicki Willis serving an ace for the match-clinching point, to take the decision, 23-25, 25-16, 20-25, 25-21, 15-12, Tuesday at Tiger Center.
Texas High head coach Melissa Hardy installed a different rotation than she had used in the first four sets, and the change paid off after the Lady Wildcats had taken a 12-9 lead in Set 5.
"This was a big win for us; Sulphur Springs beat us twice last year," Hardy said. "We knew what they had coming back, they have some big girls, are fundamental and bring the ball over on first and second balls. We worked on some different things in practice, getting ready for that."
Treyaunna Rush hammered 23 kills and finished with a quadruple double to lead the Tigers (18-7, 2-0). The southpaw junior also had five blocks, 16 service points, 15 assists and 16 digs. Willis, the team's libero, had 23 digs and 27 service points.
Sulphur Springs (17-11, 1-1) took the early momentum in the final set, using back-to-back aces to go up 4-2 and a hitting error moments later made it 6-3. Texas High cut its deficit to 7-6 and then tied the score at 9-all, when a pair of kills and an ace by the Wildcats built the 3-point lead and needing just three more points.
Those never came.
The next serve went into the net, bringing Willis to the line. Rush put down the next two kills to make it 12-12, a couple of errors on the Sulphur Springs side set up match point, and Willis' next serve went for an ace to seal the victory.
Texas High had to survive a fierce rally in the fourth set to get to the fifth.
The Tigers built a 13-5 lead and extended it to 17-8 before a 4-point push by the Wildcats. At 19-12, Sulphur Springs scored four more in a row and cut the THS lead to 22-21. But a player in the next gave the Tigers the serve again, and Rush came up with two blocks to end the set.
Texas High faced a 19-10 deficit in the third set when it rallied to make it 24-20, but the Wildcats scored the final point to go up 2-1 in the match.
The teams looked like a pair of heavy weights in the first set, trading licks back and forth with neither able to gain much momentum. The score was tied 13 times, but SS took 3 of the last 4 points to take Set 1.
Holding a 14-11 lead in the second set, the Tigers pulled away with four straight and a streak of five to gain set point at 24-14.
"We were down a couple of those games, but I'm excited and proud of those girls for fighting back," Hardy said.
Kaitlyn Cross had nine kills, nine blocks and eight digs for Texas High, Katelyn Jordan added 22 assists, and Unique McBride and Olivia Lower had six kills each. Mia Wilson served 17 winners, and Cross, Jordan and Lower added 16 points apiece.
Autumn Tanton and Mieke Vanbenthem had 12 kills each for the Wildcats, Vanbenthem also adding five blocks and Tanton four blocks. Kaylee Jefferson swatted nine kills, Anden Hammack had 31 assists, and Maggie Mcglamery and Imani Taylor had 12 and 10 digs, respectively.
Sulphur Springs won the junior varsity match, 25-19, 25-15, and the 9th grade contest, 25-12, 25-9. Nazaya Williams served seven for THS' jayvee, and Mollie Johnson served five for the Tiger freshmen.
Texas High hosts Pine Tree Friday with varsity starting at 4:30 p.m.