Senath-Hornersville volleyball squad's stellar playoff run ends a victory shy of district title

Photo by Dustin Ward, staff
Senath-Hornersville's Aubry Jones tips a ball at the Twin Rivers defense in the Class 2, District 1 volleyball championship Wednesday at Malden High School.

MALDEN, Mo. - Senath-Hornersville volleyball coach Alex Glover was confident her squad was ready to make noise in Class 2, District 1 even after it received the No. 5 seed in the seven-team tournament.

“I knew we could make a run in this tournament,” Glover said.

Glover’s players proved her right Monday night.

Senath-Hornersville beat defending champion No. 1 seeded Malden 20-25, 25-21, 25-22 in a semifinal and also knocked off No. 4 seeded Caruthersville 25-18, 25-22 in a quarterfinal to reach the Class 2, District 1 title game.

"They played so hard and wanted it so bad," Glover said. "I’m so proud of them.”

Senath-Hornersville returned to the court Wednesday to take on the No. 2 seeded Twin Rivers Royal in the Class 2, District 1 title game. The Lions enjoyed several spurts of success, especially in the second set, but eventually fell to Twin Rivers 25-19, 25-22 in a closely-contested championship.

“I’m super proud of them, regardless of the outcome tonight,” Glover repeated.

Twin Rivers had to finish things out strong to avoid a third set against Senath-Hornersville. The Lions scored consecutive points on a setting error and attack error to tie things up at 21-all late in the second set and force a Twin Rivers timeout.

After the timeout, Twin Rivers retook control when it scored the next three points to move back ahead 24-21.

Senath-Hornersville cut the deficit to 24-22 when it took the next point on a kill by Kylie Kulin.

But the Royals refused to let the Lions get any closer again.

Twin Rivers’ Brianna South tipped a ball at the Senath-Hornersville defense that the Lions defense scrambled to and prevented from hitting the floor. The Lions’ return hit over the net landed out of bounds, allowing Twin Rivers to secure match point.

“We knew coming in Senath-Hornersville was going to be tough to beat because they are so scrappy,” Twin Rivers coach Whitney Edington said. “Their defense is so good and their hitters find holes so well. We’ve struggled at times with our hitters hitting the ball out so we’ve been putting an emphasis on hitting smart instead of just going for it every time. In the end, we got our final point by playing smart and placing the ball where we needed it with a tip at the net.”

The second set was tied five-all before Senath-Hornersville scored seven straight points to move ahead 12-5. The Lions’ middle blockers helped fuel the surge as Twin Rivers hit five balls over the Senath-Hornersville block and out of bounds.

“Both of my middle blockers - Aubry Jones and Kylie Cook - have done a great job blocking this year,” Glover said. “I’m super proud of the way they’ve played at the net.”

The Lions maintained a single-digit lead in the second set until Twin Rivers scored four straight points on a missed serve, attack error, kill by South, and an ace serve by Jaylynn Williams to move back ahead 21-19 and never trailed after.

“It’s was tough going against their block,” Twin Rivers senior Kristen Withrow said. “But we knew we had to find a way to get around it and make sure we got it over the net.

The Royals and Lions were tied at six-all after the first dozen points of the opening set. Twin Rivers scored 15 of the next 20 points to build a 21-11 lead. The Royals recorded seven kills and a pair of ace serves during the 15-5 run.

"They are definitely taller than we are,” Glover said. “We knew we would have to worry about that but tried to do the best we could to get around their size at the net.”

Senath-Hornersville enjoyed a 6-0 run late in the first set to cut the deficit as close as 21-17. But the Royals followed with four of the next six points to win the first set by six.

Senath-Hornersville finishes its season with a record of 12-15-3.

The Lions graduate three seniors - Aubry Jones, Hannah Johnson, and Tera Bird.

“They’ve been huge pieces to our team,” Glover said of the seniors. “We will definitely miss them. But we do have six sophomores that will move up next year. I also expect us to have a pretty strong freshmen class next season. We should have good numbers next season. But our seniors held a very special place on this team.”

Twin Rivers improves to 11-15-2 with the win. Twin Rivers beat No. 7 seeded East Prairie 25-21, 25-11 in a district quarterfinal and No. 3 seeded New Madrid County Central 25-13, 25-21 in a district semifinal Monday to reach the title game.

“We’ve had ups and downs this season but in the games we’ve lost they’ve fought so hard,” Edington said. “They stayed positive even when close games fell through their fingers. We kept telling them, ‘All these close loses are going to get us ready for the district.’ We’ve had girls out with illnesses and out with injuries, so to say this was an easy journey would be anything but correct. They put in the work every single day and achieved their goal tonight. It’s just so awesome to see their dream come true.”

Twin Rivers plays St. Pius X of Festus Saturday in a Class 2 sectional at Woodland High School in Marble Hill. The game time of the sectional was not available at press deadline.

“We are excited,” Edington said. “We know moving forward will not be easy. The competition increases 150 percent when you go up north and we know that. But winning the district was our goal. Moving forward we want to continue to work hard and try to get as far as we can, but also be proud of what we have accomplished.”

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