Smith-Cotton faced a Clinton Lady Cardinals team Thursday that it beat in straight sets twice last season, but Clinton gave the Lady Tigers everything they could handle before Smith-Cotton came out with a 25-19, 25-16 win.
Every time Smith-Cotton tried to pull away in the first set, the Lady Cardinals fought back to keep it close. Clinton got within three late, but the Lady Tigers scored four of the final five points to take the first set 25-19.
“We knew they lost some seniors so we weren’t quite sure how they were going to matchup against us,” said senior Abby Knight, who led the Lady Tigers with 11 kills.
The second set was similar to the first until about halfway through. Smith-Cotton kept Clinton at bay and finished off the Lady Cardinals with a 25-16 win.
“The first game was a little bit rough for us I think, but we definitely came back in the second one and played the way we should play,” Knight said.
Knight got working early with three quick kills to help build a 9-4 lead. Emilee Edgar, Courtney Koetting and Tori Jacobi each set up Knight with the kills.
Clinton would slowly climb back in and make it 11-9 Smith-Cotton.
The Lady Tigers jump-started once again and built an 18-12 lead after Knight got one of her four blocks.
Brittany Borke followed that up with an ace, but the Lady Cardinals would come back again.
The Lady Tigers would hit the ball out of bounds and into the net to make it 20-16 Smith-Cotton.
“They kept fighting for sure,” Knight said. “That made it tough for us, but we just kept fighting back too.”
The score would get to 21-18 Smith-Cotton, but the Lady Tigers pulled away once again for the win.
“As we went on I think the girls stepped up and knew what they had to do to win,” said head coach Darcia Koetting.
Smith-Cotton pulled away early in the second set, but Clinton would make another comeback.
“They played a good defensive game and they were there to answer some of our hits,” Darcia Koetting said.
A 7-2 lead for the Lady Tigers would later turn into a 10-7 lead, but that would be the last big run for Clinton.
Smith-Cotton scored four straight points and Clinton would only score multiple points in a row twice the rest of the night.
With the win, the Lady Tigers are 4-0 overall and 2-0 in West Central Conference play.
The schedule gets busy for Smith-Cotton. The Lady Tigers head to the eight-team Higginsville Spikefest on Saturday and host 2013 district champ Rock Bridge on Monday.
“We’re really excited to play Rock Bridge this year and especially for the tournament too,” Knight said. “We’re excited to go down there and hopefully play well.”
Smith-Cotton returns to conference play Tuesday when they host St. Pius X.