HIGH SCHOOL VOLLEYBALL: Andrews outlasts Odessa High in marathon match - Odessa American: Sports

HIGH SCHOOL VOLLEYBALL: Andrews outlasts Odessa High in marathon match

By Tony Venegas tvenegas@oaoa.com, 432-333-7649 | Posted: Tuesday, August 13, 2019 10:46 pm

What looked to be a clean sweep turned into a marathon match and a nearly completed dramatic comeback.

For the Odessa High volleyball team, however, the rally came up just short, falling to Andrews in five sets (21-25, 27-29, 26-24, 29-27, 14-16) Tuesday night at the OHS Fieldhouse in the Lady Bronchos’ home opener.

The match was close from start to finish as four of the five sets needed more than the minimum point total to be completed.

“At the beginning of the match, I think we waited too long to kick in and start playing our game,” Odessa High head coach Victoria Smith said. “Towards the end of the match, we were more aggressive at the beginning of the set. Those dips just got the better of us tonight.”

The Lady Bronchos (4-3 overall) fell behind early in the first set behind a strong attack from Andrews (6-2 overall) mixed with the Lady Mustangs taking advantage of mistakes from Odessa High to take the first set.

Odessa High got off to a good start in the second set leading 9-5 early on. But the Lady Mustangs would charge ahead and rally to take two separate five-point leads.

The Lady Bronchos would simply not go away, however, eventually reaching set point three different times, before Andrews pulled it together to take a 2-0 lead.

“We just had to find a way to outwork Odessa High,” Andrews head coach Britney Hanna said. “They worked hard and their defense and services were on point tonight. Our girls did a good job of that and give credit to Odessa High because they’re a good team.”

Even with the team playing well, the Lady Bronchos showed how persistent they were in the third set.

Facing a 21-14 deficit, Odessa High went one of its best runs of the night, closing on a 12-3 run to win the third set 26-24 and stay alive in the match.

A big part of that run was thanks to senior setter Brianna McClure, who led the team with 22 kills and 29 assists and added 10 digs.

“Coach Smith just told us just to keep swinging and make them work,” McClure said. “We just had to find the holes and be smart about it.”

The momentum that Odessa High picked up in the third set carried over into the fourth set with the Lady Bronchos opening with a 7-2 run.

It was Andrews’ turn to come up with an answer, which they did and eventually tied the fourth set at 23-23 and served for match point at 27-26.

But Odessa High delivered a counterpunch by stringing together three straight points to win 29-27 and force a deciding fifth set.

“We basically had to come together and be all in for the team and give all out effort,” Andrews junior Kassidy Epperson said. “We were determined to make sure that nothing hit the floor.”

Fittingly, the deciding set turned into a battle of persistence with neither team being able to pull away from the other.

Eventually, it was Andrews who had that extra push as the Lady Mustangs rallied for four straight points from down 14-12 to take the match and outlast the Lady Bronchos.

“This match showed me that we can hustle,” Hanna said. “We’ve been talking about effort and hustle and they showed a lot of that tonight and figured it out. This was a good win for us.”

Andrews will head east to compete in the Glen Rose Tournament starting Friday while Odessa High will regroup and travel to San Angelo to play in the Nita Vannoy Volleyball Tournament on the same day. But even in defeat, Smith says that Tuesday’s result can give her team something to work on.

“This game showed me that we have what it takes,” she said. “We just have to fix our mental mistakes and push to finish.”