[portfolio_slideshow]By Matt Kelton Pioneer Sentinel
Three weeks ago, Henrietta became the first volleyball squad in District 8-2A to take a single set away from Holliday, ranked seventh in state. Monday, in the Class 2A Region I quarterfinal, the Lady Cats became the first team this season to force the Lady Eagles to a fifth set.
Holliday advances to the Region I semifinal, while the Henrietta’s season came to an end, but it would take all the Lady Eagles could muster to overcome the tenacious Lady Cats, 3-2.
“I knew when we played them the second round and they took us to four, and game four was 27-25, and it could have went either way and put us in a game five at that time, that Henrietta was going to be well prepared,” said Holliday Head Coach Mindy Patton.
Having defeated Jacksboro in a playoff for third place, Henrietta was the admitted underdog in Monday’s game, facing a Holliday squad that was undefeated in district. The Lady Eagles had an overall record of 31-5 and were ranked sixth in state going into the regional quarterfinal, while Henrietta finished 8-2A at 6-5.
With the Windthorst ISD gymnasium at near capacity, the Lady Cats fed off of a rambuncious Henrietta crowd to surprise Holliday in the first set 25-21.
Despite the upset, Holliday rebounded to come away with a 16-25 win in the second set, and a 23-25 win in the third. While the sea of red at the north end of the bleacher might have thought their Lady Eagles had a trip to the regional tournament in the bag, Henrietta had other plans.
The Lady Cats let Holliday slip into a three-point lead in the fourth before battling back to win the set. With a pair of kills from Anni Scholl, the Lady Cats Held Holliday at 24-all, followed by a service ace from Taylor Bennett and a Holliday ball out for the win, 26-24.
Henrietta opened the fifth set with a 2-0 lead, but Holliday soon pulled ahead. Sierra Burkhart and Bennett recorded kills and two big blocks were made to keep the Lady Cats within two points of the Lady Eagles. Scholl added a tip and Burkhart a kill to tie the game at 14 before a pair of Holliday kills ended the match, 14-16.
“I couldn’t have asked for anything more. I asked them to leave it all out there on the floor, and that’s exactly what they did,” said Henrietta Head Coach Rochelle Kabisch. “Everybody had rallies, everybody had hitters. We did the best that we could.”
Burkhart and Scholl led the Lady Cat attack with a combined 31 kills. Burkhart finished with 16, while Scholl had 15. Bennett and Joyana Zamzow added nine kills each, followed by Addison Wade with six and Cheyenne Barry with three.
Katie Halsell finished with 25 set assists, while Kailey Kirk had 18.
Scholl and Cassie Pickett scored three aces each, while Halsell and Bennett scored one ace each.
Playing libero for the last time, four-year varsity veteran Annelise Sauer tallied 30 digs. Scholl picked up 19 digs and Pickett had 12. Barry had four digs. Halsell and Kirk finished with three each, and Burkhart and Bennett had two digs each.
Holliday will face the winner of the Highland Park-Friona quarterfinal in the Region I semifinal at 1 p.m. Friday in Abilene Christian University’s Moody Coliseum. The Region I final set for noon Saturday in the same location.