Whitehouse Rallies For Five-Game Win At John Tyler to Remain in 16-4A Championship Chase
TYLER — With a postseason berth already at hand, Whitehouse coach Britney Nordin wanted to see how her team would handle adversity. And she did Tuesday night.
Whitehouse overcame a 2-1 deficit to outlast District 16-4A rival John Tyler 25-22, 19-25, 21-25, 25-16, 15-7 on JT’s Senior Night at the Lions Den. The win kept the LadyCats (19-12, 7-1) one game behind district-leading Lindale with two matches remaining in the regular season.
“It feels nice, especially after seeing our girls fighting,” Nordin said. “Right now, that’s really important in getting ready for the next two games that we have and the playoffs. It was nice to see that heart and that fight in the girls.”
After dropping the third game, Whitehouse never trailed in Game 4 and closed the decisive fifth set with a 5-0 run.
“This is a game of momentum and they took some momentum from us,” Nordin said. “We finally had to kinda break it down and think about one point at a time, get the momentum back slowly. And that’s what we did in that fourth game and going into the fifth game.”
Ashton Ates led the LadyCats with 11 kills, while Kelly Keller added nine. Ronnie Fountain dished out 31 assists to go with five kills, Lindsey Hannah produced six kills and four aces, while Megan Harris and Kaitlyn Anderson had four kills apiece.
John Tyler (12-26, 2-6), which led for most of the match’s opening game and dominated Games 2 and 3, was led by DeDe Rouge, who finished with 14 kills, six blocks and 14 assists. Kashanti Flowers, one of just two seniors on the JT roster, added 12 kills on the night.
“Kashanti Flowers played very well,” said John Tyler coach LaMessa Derrett. “She knew that this was going to be her last home game and she did some things on the spot that I asked her to do and she came through.”
Kandice Jackson led the Lady Lions with 16 assists and added three kills and two blocks. Chenique Baxter finished with four kills, three assists and three aces, while Shakenda Tilley chipped in with three kills and two blocks.
“In Games 2 and 3 we passed very well, serve-receive was great,” Derrett said. “We also hit well. In Games 4 and 5, just small, mental boo-boos, stuff that just didn’t make sense. We just didn’t finish. We wanted it, but I guess not bad enough. We played well, but not well enough to (win).”
John Tyler raced out to a 7-1 lead in Game 1, and didn’t give up the lead until Fountain tipped it over the net for a 21-20 Whitehouse lead. The LadyCats went on to win four of the game’s final six points for the 1-0 lead.
Baxter’s back-to-back aces highlighted a 5-0 John Tyler run that gave the Lady Lions a 13-9 lead and helped fuel a Game 2 victory. The Lady Lions took control of the third game with a run of seven consecutive points to build a 13-8 lead and JT led by as many seven points. Whitehouse cut the lead to 24-21, but Rouge set up a Baxter kill on the next point to give JT the 2-1 lead.
“John Tyler’s a tough team; we’ve always struggled with them in the past, especially in the second round playing here,” Nordin said. “We had some long rallies throughout the entire match and that’s just a good game of volleyball, it was fun to watch.”
John Tyler is at Jacksonville on Friday before concluding the regular season at Corsicana next Tuesday. Whitehouse is at Nacogdoches on Friday and finishes the regular season with a home match against Lindale, which could be for the district title.
“All year we’ve just been working on consistency,” Nordin said. “We have all the components, just putting it all together and being consistent (is our focus).”