The Howe Lady Bulldogs played at a very high level and came away with an exciting 3-2 win over a very good Tom Bean team at Howe on Monday night.
The win sends Howe into the Denison Invitational Tournament on a three-game win streak — and also gives the players a big boost of confidence.
“It was our best win of the season and hopefully it will give the team something to build on as we head into the tournament,” Howe coach Jordan Dusek said. “Tom Bean had some strong hitters and we were able to overcome that. We had good crowd support tonight and maybe the way we played will encourage our fans to come back.”
The Lady Bulldogs fell behind early in the opening set before coming back to tie the score, 7-7. Peyton Groves pushed home a couple of winners, but the Lady Cats pulled ahead by four and Howe could not close the gap. The visitors won the opener, 25-20, as Baylee Stautzenberger knocked down a pair of left-handed kills. She finished with nine in the contest.
After an opening kill by Dreanna McAdams, senior Mati Abner sent in a pair of kills to start a Howe run in the second set. Abner's line shot gave the Lady Bulldogs a 9-5 lead and they never looked back in a 25-10 win to even the match.
Emily Sanders was on fire early in the third set, sending in four aces as she held serve through a 7-0 run. Tom Bean rallied in this one as Ashlie Cass sent in a pair of winners, and it was a see-saw battle for the remainder of the set. A block by Kamryn Fulenchek, two aces by Anna Counts and a cross-court kill by Sanders pushed the Howe lead to seven. A Groves kill made it a 20-13 set, but the Lady Cats came roaring back.
A Howe error and two winners by Cass cut the lead to two and forced a Howe timeout. However, a Tom Bean miscue and a kill by McAdams gave Howe a 25-23 win to take a 2-1 lead.
Abner had an ace and two kills in the fourth set and it was tied at 7-7 before Tom Bean pulled ahead by two. Howe could never close that gap, which at one point grew to four, and Tom Bean was a 25-19 winner to tie the match despite late kills by Abner and Megan Davies.
Going to the fifth and deciding set, the two teams were dead even.
Davies had two kills in the early going, but Stautzenberger was keeping the Lady Cats in the game. There were ties at 9-9, 11-11, and 14-14 before Howe pulled out the match. Abner went down the line for a kill to put Howe up 15-14 and a Sanders shot made it official in a 16-14, Lady Bulldog win.
Abner finished with 10 kills, Groves had seven and Davies sent in five.
Sanders racked up seven service winners, four in the third set.
Howe did it without the services of senior Kayla Anderson who will miss the next four weeks with an ankle injury.
Howe will be playing in the Denison Tourney on Aug. 18 and Aug. 20 and travels to Dodd City on the Aug. 19.