Facing Hutto for the third time this season, any early jitters Rouse had were extinguished out early on.
The Lady Raiders advanced to the regional tournament in Houston for the second straight year with a 3-0 (25-15, 25-7, 25-12) sweep against the Lady Hippos Tuesday night in Round Rock. Rouse swept Hutto twice during the district schedule.
“It can be hard to keep winning against the same team three times,” senior Ava Bell said. “Mentally, it’s hard to stay fresh with them and what they’re doing and changing. We did a good job prepping for the game with what they were fixing.”
Bell finished with a team-high five aces, four block assists and had five digs. Senior élan McCall and sophomore Reilly Heinrich each had 12 digs while Grayson Schirpik added 10. Maddie Sheehan finished with 35 assists.
McCall led the Lady Raiders with 16 kills. Dannielle Cole finished with nine kills and Bell chipped in with eight.
“We’ve been blessed,” Rouse head coach Jacob Thomson said. “You can’t just key on one (outside hitter). It’s been fun to watch those kids grow for the last four years. We’re not very predictable.”
The Lady Raiders won all nine sets against Hutto this season. They never let the Lady Hippos score more than 18 points and held them under 15 points five times.
Four of the first five Hutto points Tuesday night came on Rouse errors and the Lady Hippos got out to an early lead. An ace by McCall tied the set at nine points apiece and the Lady Raiders went on a 9-0 run to extend their lead. A nasty knuckleball ace by Bell helped close out the set.
Rouse continued its hot streak in the second set, opening up a 10-1 lead. It won 15 of the final 21 points to run away with the set.
The Lady Raiders scored the first four points of the third set and the third ace from McCall made it 17-5 and forced a Hutto timeout. The Lady Hippos made a lie run to cut the lead to 10 points, but Rouse closed things out winning the final three points.
“We talk about not getting ahead of ourselves,” Thompson said. “We focus in on what we’re supposed to do. From the moment we got beat by LakeTravis three years ago, we came in and looked at things a little differently. It’s one touch at a time.”
Rouse will meet Manvel, which needed five sets to get past Barbers Hill earlier Tuesday night, Friday at 7 p.m. at the Delmar Fieldhouse in Houston. The Lady Raiders swept the Lady Mavericks 2-0 (25-10, 25-13) in tournament play earlier this season.
“There was a lot of energy in the gym and we could’ve crumbled under the pressure early,” Bell said. “We stayed the course and stayed together and fought to get back on top and never let up.”