Spring Hill Maintains Share Of First Place With Three-Set Win Against Bullard
LONGVIEW -- Bullard battled back from a rough second set to give Spring Hill everything it wanted in Tuesday's pivotal District 16-4A match at Spring Hill High School.
But Ann Hollas gave Spring Hill an inch of wiggle room with her match-best 17th kill of the night before libero Camie Copeland dived out for an innocent dig that bounced off her hands and back over the net for a surprising, match-winning point in a 25-16, 25-7, 26-24 senior night victory.
"We're still working out, as all teams should be, the little mistakes that could make the difference for us to go to the next level," Spring Hill head coach Karen Brundrett said. "But I was pleased with the blocking and attacking that we brought tonight."
The next level for Spring Hill -- which is now 7-1 in league competition and ranked fourth state wide in the Texas Girls Coaches Association's Class 4A poll -- would be whatever it takes to win the district championship following a loss to Gilmer on Saturday.
Brundrett's squad is deadlocked with Gilmer in the 16-4A standings with two regular season matches remaining and a special district championship scenario looming.
Bullard, now 5-3 against district competition, was hoping to capitalize on Gilmer's win. It could have tied Spring Hill and Gilmer for first place in the standings if it defeated Spring Hill and Gilmer was upset elsewhere by Gladewater.
If Bullard won and Gilmer simultaneously won -- which Gilmer did -- Bullard would have tied Spring Hill for second place.
With the loss, however, it appears Bullard will finish its regular season in third place unless both Spring Hill and Gilmer lose out while it wins out.
"I think, if anything, our loss to Gilmer motivated us more," Hollas, a senior hitter, said. "It's kind of coming into reality that this is a lot of our's last season. We really want to make the most out of it. I don't think it will totally hit me until we're done, but I think the reason we played so hard is because we don't want to be done soon. We want to go all the way."
Spring Hill will clinch at least second place in the standings with a win against Gladewater on Saturday at home. Gladewater became the first district team eliminated postseason competition Tuesday, and it is still seeking its first win against the six-team group.
It looked like it was going to be relatively easy for Spring Hill to get into its present position through two sets.
Hollas played a role on 10 points in the opening frame. Spring Hill closed the set on a 10-3 run.
The second set was much less competitive. Hollas and company built up a 15-2 lead.
Bullard rallied back in the final set from an early 9-2 deficit for a 14-14 score. It never led, but it tied Spring Hill three more times on the way to a 24-24 contest.
Hollas and Copeland closed the door.
"They did a good job of finding an area that we were not rotating our defense and they scored about six points with the middle hit," Brundrett said. "We made an adjustment and there was no more."
In addition to scoring 17 kills, Hollas recorded five blocks and aced one serve for 29 total points in the match. She additionally recorded a team second-best seven assists behind setter Keeley McCain's 20 assists.
Jenna Hampton also broke double-digit scoring for Spring Hill with nine kills, five blocks and an aced serve.
Bullard's McCall Cowert guided her side with six kills and a block, but the team only scored 23 of its 46 points on offense -- 50 percent. That's a little below average for a high school team and certainly not good enough to counter one of the state's top programs.
After Gladewater, Spring Hill will cap the regular season at Kilgore. Kilgore is battling for fourth place against Chapel Hill, and neither team can catch Bullard.
Gilmer also has a favorable slate of games, but it will have to defeat Bullard in its own finale.
If Spring Hill and Gilmer both win their final two games, they will meet either Oct. 30 or Oct. 31 for a tiebreaker match at a neutral site.
Bullard will visit Kilgore on Saturday.
"Composure is a big thing," Hollas said. "And Coach has gotten a little harder on us the past few days. I think that will help a lot in the long run."