Fulani Petties placed 16 kills and Whitehouse kept pace with Pine Tree at the top of the District 14-4A volleyball standings with a win in four games over John Tyler Tuesday at the Lions Den.

Whitehouse captured the final three games, coming alive down the stretch in each, to claim an important contest, 20-25, 25-19, 25-21, 25-21, and remain unbeaten in league action.

Angela Knight recorded 10 kills and 26 assists while Rachel Garlitz (17 digs) and Blakely Broughton (16 digs) keyed a strong defensive effort for Whitehouse (20-7, 4-0 in 14-4A).

After falling a game behind, Whitehouse never trailed in the second set, taking a commanding nine-point lead (17-8) after Petties blocked a shot and Braughton knocked in a ball just in front of the line.

Petties provided the key points again in a tight third game, hammering down a kill to give Whitehouse a 23-21 cushion. Erica Jordan followed with a block before Knight set up Petties for the game-clinching putdown.

“That was the first time we’d been challenged in a while,” Whitehouse coach Britney Nordin said. “I think once they got their confidence back that they can challenge John Tyler, that’s what shifted that momentum.”

JT held a 17-16 lead in the fourth game before Whitehouse went on a 5-0 run. Jordan evened the score with a surprise push down the line which dropped in, and a passing error allowed Whitehouse to take the lead for good.Moments later Petties and Braughton chalked up consecutive kills. A Whitehouse serving error helped JT close within 23-21, though the Lady Lions returned the favor by hitting a serve into the net before a final hitting error ended the affair.

“The girls hustled,” said Nordin, whose team plays Hallsville and Pine Tree in crucial matches next week. “They came back from that first game and got their composure back. We knew this was going to be a tough game. It showed the character and drive they have.”

Jennifer McGowen (seven kills, four blocks, two aces) and Erica Franklin (seven kills, 18 digs) topped JT’s attack. Quaneshia Johnson (20 assists, nine digs, two aces), Amicia Williams (six kills) and Amanda Theaker (14 digs, ace) also contributed for the Lady Lions.

JT (20-10, 2-2) controlled the opening game, trailing only one point, before closing it out on a McGowen kill. The third game featured eight ties until Whitehouse scored the final three points. The lead changed hands six times before Whitehouse closed the final game out with a 9-4 run.

“You have to come in focused in practice and we didn’t do a good job (Monday) at practice,” JT head coach Stephanie March-Smith said. “We had too many mental and defensive errors.”

LIONS’ TALES: Whitehouse won both the sub-varsity matches – the junior varsity in straight games (25-21, 25-9) and the freshman affair in straight games (25-14, 25-6). ….Whitehouse plays at Jacksonville Friday while JT visits Hallsville. 

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