Friendswood brought its A-game to Phillips Field House on Tuesday and needed it to sweep Barbers Hill 25-16, 25-22, 25-23.
The Lady Mustangs will take on Leander Rouse in Friday’s Class 5A regional semifinals at Delmar Fieldhouse.
Rouse, the 2017 state runner-up, swept Hutto on Tuesday.
Friendswood had all it could handle in District 21-5A champion Barbers Hill.
With the Lady Eagles matching the Lady Mustangs in tenacious defense and offensive power, it took a little extra for Friendswood to emerge with the win.
In Friendswood’s case, it was the ability to remain in system and keep running its transition game.
“We have a lot of options,” Lady Mustangs coach Sarah Paulk said. “If we can stay in system, it benefits us. We did an OK job of keeping all of our options open.”
Friendswood needed to retain its poise to deal with an outstanding defensive performance from Barbers Hills.
Led by libero Macy Sumrall, the Lady Eagles did not allow many stray balls to fall to the floor.
“They went hard and kept going and going,” Paulk said. “We didn’t quit when we could have quit. We just kept playing.”
Friendswood responded by continuing to feed its aggressive front line.
Ashlyn Svoboda put down eight kills in a sizzling first set and ended the night with 12.
The remainder of the Lady Mustangs hitters jumped in at the outset of set two and restored the offensive balance.
Makensy Manbeck finished with 11 kills, while Tori Weatherley, Lauren Hubbard and Elle McGown combined for 18 more.
“Ashlyn did her job and then the others took over,” Paulk said. “We are definitely not a one-man team at all. We have to run our middles. We have to run everybody. It was good that we started to spread it out.”
Friendswood led 7-5 in the first set before going on an 11-4 run that decided the outcome.
It took a decidedly more intense effort to complete the three-set sweep.
Barbers Hill remained on Friendswood’s heels in the second set, pulling within 21-19.
Two long rallies won by the Mustangs along with a kill and a block from Manbeck finally subdued the Eagles.
“Those long rallies were huge momentum points,” Paulk said. “You have to make sure that you win those because they change the momentum big time.
Barbers Hill came out in the third set determined not to go out quietly.
The Eagles stayed close early, then made two late runs that resulted in an 18-16 lead and then a 22-22 tie.
Both setbacks proved to be brief ones.
Kills from Manbeck and Hubbard led to three straight points that overcame the first deficit.
Friendswood dug down deep to break out of the late deadlock.
Weatherley and Manbeck broke the tie with a dual block, with Weatherley scoring on a set dump to produce set point.
The Eagles brought one point back before Svoboda ended the match with a kill off a free ball.
“They let it get too close,” Paulk said. “We did what we needed to do to win in three.”