For coach Greg Hodge, it was something nice to see.
Through much of the season, the Lady Trojans (6-9) had built leads of five points or more, but they would allow opposing teams to fight their way back.
That wasn’t the case Tuesday. Lassiter went on late service runs in each set before holding on to win.
Of all the late runs the Lady Trojans embarked on, its second-set spurt seemed to give them the most confidence while deflating any momentum Hillgrove (9-3) had built early in the second set. Clinging to an 18-16 lead, Lassiter reeled off seven straight points on Kendal Smith’s serve to win the match.
“Obviously, we’d be in this position in a couple of other matches, where we were six to eight points ahead, and (Tuesday), we didn’t give them a run,” Hodge said. “We shut down their run when need be and ended up finishing strong, especially in the second set.”
Hillgrove looked like a different team after cutting down on its first-set mistakes, and Lassiter needed that seven-point second-set run to take command of the match.
The opening portion of the second set was evenly matched between the teams, consisting of seven ties and three lead changes. Even though Lassiter broke a 13-all tie with three straight points to take the lead for good, Hillgrove still battled until the Lady Trojans used their run to pull away.
And Lassiter didn’t get a freebie during its seven-point surge. The Lady Trojans had to earn every point.
The run started with a solo block by Paige Gorski. Smith followed with an ace before Becca Ledford hit two straight kills, with the first on a tip. Gorski followed with a kill of her own to give Lassiter set point before setter Ellen Handlan dumped the ball into the open court to win it.
Hillgrove couldn’t recover in the third set. Lassiter jumped to an 11-6 lead, and the Lady Hawks never got within three points the rest of the way. A five-point Lassiter run on Ledford’s serve, highlighted by back-to-back aces, gave Lassiter a comfortable 20-11 lead.
In the first set, Lassiter jumped in front early and used a late six-point service run to take a 19-8 lead.
Ledford led Lassiter with 16 kills and three aces, while Smith finished with 10 kills. Kysa Huddleston added five kills, and Handlan dished out 30 assists.
Hillgrove has lost three straight after winning its first nine matched of the season. While the Lady Hawks fought hard in straight-set losses to Pope and Mill Creek last Thursday, mistakes got the best of them Tuesday.
“They did play well against Mill Creek and Pope, but Lassiter, not so much,” Hillgrove coach Shannon Mabrey said. “I think (Tuesday), the mental errors were one of our downfalls, and our blocks were not on, and we kind of passed sloppy. We’ll have to step up in our practices and do the little things better.”
Shayna Williamson had eight kills and a block-assist to lead Hillgrove. Chioma Okonkwo came away with a solo block and two block-assists, and Myah Martin finished with 11 assists.