Members of the Houston Academy volleyball team had plenty of reasons to smile and take photos after Tuesday’s night tri-match at Killingsworth Gym with Wicksburg and city rival Providence Christian.
For the first time in their playing career, including for the five seniors, the Raider players enjoyed a win over rival Providence Christian.
The Class 3A, No. 7-ranked Raiders knocked off the 4A No. 2 ranked Eagles Tuesday, 25-23, 22-25, 15-12.
The victory was a rare one for HA, perhaps even the first. Providence Christian coach Bill Oldfield, who has coached 14 years at the program, couldn’t recall a previous Raider win over the Eagles.
“ It is a long time coming for us,” Houston Academy head coach Vanessa Howell said. “We have been working for this for a long time. Providence is always such a fantastic team and they play such fantastic defense.
“ I think we came out so strong right off the bat and our girls played well together. We maximized our strengths today. I really saw all the things we have been working on come together.”
Howell added her girls, “just wanted it.”
Providence Christian’s Oldfield said the Raiders earned the win.
“ I give all the credit in the world to them,” Oldfield said. “They played great. They played good defense. They served well and they certainly hit well. For us, it was unforced errors. We have to clean that up and get better, but HA did a great job. All the kudos in the world to them.”
Prior to battling each other, both teams defeated Wicksburg. Providence took a 25-7, 25-8 win and HA a 25-11, 25-11 victory over the Panthers.
Houston Academy is now 6-3 on the year, while Providence Christian is 2-1.
In the showdown game between HA and PCS, it was the host Raiders that took control early, building a 13-8 lead in the first set.
The Eagles battled back with five straight points to close the gap to 13-11 with an Adleigh Mayes tip kill off HA blocks finishing the spurt.
The Raiders answered with three points and maintained the margin for several rotations to go up 20-16.
Providence surged back and took a 23-22 lead when a Raider block attempt went out of bounds.
A serve by Providence went into the net, tying it up at 23 before a Lizzy Kate Skinner block pushed the Raiders up 24-23.
During the serve rotation by the Raiders’ Ashlyn Conner, a Providence return effort by Katie Griffin after a Raider block went into the net, giving HA the set 25-23.
“ Providence did make several serving errors at the start and we were playing our game,” Howell said. “We were pushing. We didn’t let down. They got several runs, but our girls were mentally tough enough to come back whereas in the past they haven’t been.
“ They would shut down. I feel that is a turning point now for us – where they can mentally come back and forget about the mistakes.”
Most of the second set was a tight one with the margin never getting above three points. After trailing 10-9, Providence scored four points, two off kills by Riley and one off a combined block by Megan Stewart and Griffin, to go up 13-10.
The Raiders, though, scored six of the next seven to go up 16-14 before it went back-and-forth.
HA led 22-21 but served out of bounds to give PCS a tying point. With Ellie Grace Crowder serving, the Raiders had two straight kill attempts go out of bounds and they couldn’t return an Eagle shot on the next point, giving PCS the set 25-22.
Houston Academy surged to a quick 4-0 in the third set with a kill by Irina Martin sparking the run. The Raiders stretched the margin to 9-3 before the Eagles scored five straight to pull to within 9-8.
After an exchange of points, a PCS serve went out of bonds, starting three Raider points and a 13-9 lead.
Houston Academy’s Carryne Chancey served into the net and Providence’s Autumn Mayes earned an ace to tighten it up at 13-11.
However, HA’s Conner set Martin for a kill, boosting the Raiders up 14-11 and a point away from match victory.
A serve out of bounds kept the Eagles alive briefly, but Conner set up Martin on the left side for a set and match ending-game kill.
Conner finished the match with 23 assists and one ace, while Martin delivered 11 kills and two digs. Mattie Havas had five kills and a block for HA, while Skinner had three digs, two kills and two blocks. Caroline Nelson had four digs and two kills and Branham Hewes added three kills.
For Providence, Autumn Mayes had 19 kills and 17 digs, Adeligh Mayes had 25 assists and four digs and Riley earned eight kills, four digs and one assist. Emma Houston had 18 digs. Lydia Camille Owens had three kills and Griffin had two blocks. Adleigh Mays, Crowder and Houston had an ace each.
“ We will learn from it,” Oldfield said of the loss. “Hopefully, it will fuel us to try and get better.”
HA downs Wicksburg: In HA’s win over Wicksburg, Nelson earned nine aces and four kills, Martin had seven kills and one ace, while Conner had 14 assists and one ace. Havas earned five kills, two aces and one block and Kendall Moore had two aces and two digs. Caley Caldwell added two assists.
The Raiders had 16 aces against the Panthers overall.
Providence defeats Wicksburg: In the Eagles’ win over the Panthers, Adeligh Mayes had 12 assists, six aces and four digs and Autumn Mayes had six kills, four digs, two aces and a block. Riley had five kills and three digs and Houston earned four assists, four digs and two aces. Griffin had three kills and Owens had two kills, an ace and a block.
Providence finished with 12 aces in the match.
Houston Academy defeated Wicksburg 25-15, 25-17. Marley Conner had six aces and two kills for HA, while Jaylee Strickland had three aces and two kills and Mary Suzane Aman had two aces and four kills.
The Raiders defeated Providence 25-23, 25-22. For the Raiders, Tamira Henexon had five kills, Lauren Baker had six kills and Marley Conner had two aces and three kills.
For Providence, Lani Shivers had 10 aces, Reagan Stevens had five kills and Ella Houston had eight assists.
Providence defeated Wicksburg 25-10, 23-25, 15-14. For the Eagles, Shivers had seven aces, Olivia Bruner had eight kills and Maggie McCollough had four digs.