It’s been a really good volleyball season for the Hixson Lady Wildcats as they had won 29 of 42 matches coming into Tuesday night’s non-district battle with Signal Mountain. They’ve had some tough and close matches along the way, but have found a way to win most of them.
That was the case on Pink Out Night where Hixson prevailed in five sets over the Lady Eagles.
Signal Mountain won the first set by a 25-23 final before Hixson won the next two by scores of 25-22 and 25-21. The Lady Eagles pulled out the fourth set by a 29-27 final before Hixson prevailed by a much-easier 15-6 score in the deciding set.
Signal Mountain is now 8-16 for the season.
It was certainly a memorable evening for Hixson senior Abby Rector, who was recognized early in the first set after recording her 1,500th career kill.
She finished the match with 27 and is now just three kills away from the Hixson school record, which she most likely will break on Thursday when Hixson faces Red Bank on Senior Night.
“We didn’t play very well at the start, but we settled down and things got better,” said Hixson coach Robert Catlett following the match.
“It seems like we bring out the best in other teams, but Signal Mountain is one of those teams who has beat us in the sectional round to keep us from going to state in years past. We could easily meet them again in a couple of weeks.
“Momentum is a big thing in volleyball and they had the advantage after winning that fourth set. We knew the match wasn’t over yet and we just had to stay grounded at that point. We took over in the fifth set. We just tried to hit their weak spots with our serving in that fifth set and that allowed us to get the big lead, but I’m just thankful we pulled it out,” Catlett smiled.
Signal Mountain coach Bailee Barrett, who is pregnant with twins, liked what she saw in the fourth set, but was just sorry her team couldn’t carry that over into the fifth.
“It’s been a roller-coaster season for us, but we’ve learned how to adapt to tough situations along the way. We showed a lot of grit and fight in that fourth set, but quickly lost it in the first five points of the fifth. I just wish we could have carried over that energy.
“Hixson has some outstanding players and Abby Rector can thump it, but I thought our defense was better than average and overall I’m pleased. Even though we lost, we still did some good things. I’m hoping we can continue to get better as we still have lots of room to grow,” she added.
Megan Kincer, one of two seniors on the Signal Mountain roster, had another outstanding match and finished with a triple double, including 20 kills, 17 assists and 22 digs.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough.
A kill from Edie Hansen allowed the Lady Eagles to win the first set while a kill from Rector allowed Hixson to return the favor in the second. A kill from Riley Bellamy gave Hixson a 2-1 lead before the Lady Eagles won the fourth.
The score was tied at 11-11 before Signal Mountain scored nine of the next 11 points for a 20-13 lead following an ace by Janie Kennedy.
Bellamy and Rector combined for four straight kills to give Hixson a 24-23 lead, but a kill from Kincer knotted the score and the Lady Eagles evened the match by scoring the final two points on a kill from Harmony McCarter and an ace from Lila Edwards.
That was a big win for Signal for sure, but the celebration may have been premature as Hixson totally dominated the final set.
Ava Rogers, a talented 15-year-old sophomore, got things started with six straight service points, including two of her four aces, and the Lady Wildcats never looked back, clinching the match as Rogers had kills on four of the final five points.
Rector finished with 27 kills and 26 digs to lead Hixson while Gabby Tench chipped in with 23 digs and 47 assists. Makenna Seitz had 25 digs while Rogers finished with 15 kills and 20 digs. Bellamy had 10 kills and three blocks.
While Kincer set the pace for the Lady Eagles, Campbell Clarke finished with 27 digs while Edwards had 18 digs and 10 kills. Hansen had 13 digs and nine kills while Kennedy had 30 assists, 10 digs and a tea-high five aces.
Both teams still have matches this week while both will host their district tournaments next week. The 6-AA gathering at Hixson will be played on Monday and Tuesday while the 7-AA gathering will be played at Signal on Tuesday.
SIGNAL MOUNTAIN STATS:
Campbell Clarke – 1 ace, 1 kill, 1 assist, 27 digs
Lila Edwards – 3 aces, 10 kills, 18 digs
Edie Hansen – 1 ace, 9 kills, 13 digs
Janie Kennedy – 5 aces, 3 kills, 10 digs, 30 assists
Megan Kincer – 2 aces, 20 kills, 17 assists, 22 digs
Harmony McCarter – 5 kills, 2 digs
Lottie Miller – 1 kill
Emalee Rowe – 11 digs.
Abby Rector – 27 kills, 2 blocks, 1 assist, 26 digs
Gabby Tench – 1 ace, 1 kill, 23 digs, 47 assists
Kirby Brown – 6 kills, 3 blocks
Makenna Seitz – 1 kill, 1 assist, 25 digs
Jenna Westfall – 5 aces
Anna Johnston – 6 digs
Ava Rogers – 4 aces, 15 kills, 2 assists, 20 digs
Izabel Todd – 1 block
Riley Bellamy – 10 kills, 3 blocks
Savannah Carroll – 1 kill, 1 ace, 13 digs
Jordan Westfall – 1 ace.
(Email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)