South Houston downs Aldine Eisenhower in two-hour volleyball match


SOUTH HOUSTON – After South Houston’s varsity volleyball team was whistled for the double hit infraction more times than head coach Mary Clifford would care to remember, that penalty saved the team Tuesday night.

Aldine Eisenhower was whistled for the infraction, securing a suspenseful 17-15 Game 5 victory and ending a 25-10, 25-14, 23-25, 18-25, 17-15 marathon contest that lasted two hours in the Trojan Gym.

Aldine Eisenhower was one point away from taking the match after starting out in that 2-0 hole. But a kill to the back row and a second straight nice serve from Alexis Romero created the sixth lead change of the game, before the double hit whistle sounded in the gym.

South Houston was at match point at 14-12, following a low and hard serve by Karina Guillen that led to an ace. But when Guillen tried for a second consecutive serve like that one, the ball hit the very top of the net and fell to the court, much to the relief of Eisenhower.

“It was good to see that we were able to buckle down and find a way to win,” said Clifford, who was calm, cool and collected for most of the match, before the fourth and fifth games had her considerably more animated.

When Eisenhower scored three straight points to erase a 10-8 deficit, the last point coming on South Houston’s next-to-last double hit violation, Clifford called time out, sensing she couldn’t let the visitors get any further ahead.

“I said we had to trust what we know how to do. I’m not asking them to do anything different. I was just asking them to be great teammates and build on each other and that’s what I think led to the win,” Clifford said.

Sometimes there’s a fine line between a 3-0 sweep and a 3-2 nailbiter. This was one of those matches. The Lady Trojans were two points away from sweeping the match, leading 23-22 following another double hit call against Eisenhower and creating the ninth lead change.

The game would produce a 10th lead change and keep a pulse for Eisenhower. At 24-23, the visitors scored game point on an ace when the ball skimmed off the top of the net, messing up South Houston’s chances of serving-receiving it.

In Game 4, it was all knotted up at 18-18, before the Lady Eagles scored the last seven points on the serving of Kimora Ward and Lady Trojan mistakes.

But all-in-all, going five games in a match will likely help South Houston when the district rolls around.

“We’re looking forward to district. We want to make a name for ourselves and show that we’re building. We’re young. Both middles, this is their first year on varsity. They’re learning the speed of the game. We had some miscommunications at some key moments. But it’s early and it’s something we’ll address as we move forward,” Clifford said.

The rest of the South Houston varsity features the names of Desiree Gomez, Zoe Romero, Cheyenne Robertson, Valerie Rodriguez, Kiyah Lindsey, Tatyana Ramos, Xiomara Torres, Jailyn Saldana and Alyssa Flores.

MATCH NOTES: The scoreboard stopped working midway through the match, prompting the need for a tabletop scoreboard in which human hands were needed to change the score. The scoreboard eventually came to life again thanks to the efforts of Assistant Principal Aaron Smith. Principal Andrea Wenke also took part in the match.

ravery@hcnonline.com

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