By BRAD KEITH
HICO (August 23, 2016) — It was a tough loss, but one that could be rewarding down the road for Hico.
The Lady Tigers (11-5) were swept in three highly-contested sets by 3A perennial power West Tuesday evening, 25-20, 28-26, 27-25, despite holding significant leads in each set.
There was an 8-1 advantage in the opening set, a late 22-17 lead in the second and a 20-13 margin in the third.
West answered each time, and usually in the form of aced serves. The Lady Trojans aced eight of them in the opening set comeback, which included an 11-3 run for a 12-11 lead. A couple of Hico errors helped complete the West comeback in the second, including one when a Lady Tiger dig went off the air conditioning shaft overhead while there was miscommunication down below. The third set featured six West aces after Hico led by seven late.
Hico did have its strong points, like acing six serves in the first set including four to build the big lead. There were consecutive kills by Sydney Polk to help dig out of a 12-8 hole following an 8-0 run by West in the second. There were kills by Kaylee Roach and Emily Jackson as well as a Marissa Warren ace to open up a 12-8 lead in the third, and another thunderous shot by Roach between West attack errors pushed the lead to 20-13.
One key cog the Lady Tigers have missed of late is Shelby Sult, their other primary hitter along with Roach and Warren. Sult suffered a collapsed lung during a tournament match on Aug. 13. Coach Julia Plaster expects the all-around and outside hitting standout back in time to help the Lady Tigers defend their district title.
West reached the Region III-3A tournament – the Sweet 16 – last season, and Plaster believes the matchup was a good one for her Hico club.
“It’s easier sometimes to get up for these matches than it is playing lesser teams,” she said. “This will help us.”