Tuesday night’s District 12-6A volleyball showdown at Wildcat Gym had almost everything fans would want in a match: Two fierce rivals playing their best in an intense matchup in front of a jubilant crowd.
About the only thing missing was a fifth set as Belton downed Temple 20-25, 25-13, 26-24, 25-22.
“We obviously know that Temple is going to give us an awesome fight,” Belton coach Krystal Brodbeck said. “I think the excitement and the fan involvement made a difference this evening.”
The difference ultimately came down to Belton middle blocker Abbey Karcher and outside hitter Elizabeth Smith, who were a bit too much for Temple to handle. They combined for 26 kills — six more than Temple’s top two leaders in kills, outside hitter Jessica Vaden and setter Paysee Crow.
“We just kind of let up a couple of times,” Temple coach JoAnna Vaden said. “My kids were fighting really hard. (Belton) just made some key points in some key moments.”
Among those key moments were back-to-back kills in the third set by Morgan Weber and Emily Holder that helped rally Belton from an 8-4 deficit to tie it at 8. Consecutive kills by Karcher eventually closed out the set and gave the Lady Tigers (10-18, 2-0) a 2-1 match lead.
“They were focused on playing out the game and not allowing the other team to dictate what goes on,” Brodbeck said. “We still had some errors, but the runs were more frequent than they had been before.”
The fourth set was a back-and-forth affair, with eight ties, three lead changes and neither team leading by more than three points at any time.
With Belton up 20-19, the Lady Tigers turned to Karcher and Smith to close it out. They had two kills each in the final push to the end, with Smith emphatically putting away the final point with a solid attack to close out the match.
“Tonight, the girls were self-motivated,” Brodbeck said. “We just gave some reminders and tweaks on things, but it was an internal thing. They wanted to win this tonight.”
The Tem-Cats (8-16, 0-2), who have lost five straight matches, will look to bounce back Friday against Waco.
“You have to lay it all on the line for every single point in every single match,” JoAnna Vaden said. “But if you don’t have the outcome you want, you have to get right back in there tomorrow, refocus and keep going. Anything can happen. I’ve seen teams go in after Round 1 on top and fall apart, and teams turn it on the second half. You just have to face each day one day at a time.”