With the most rugged part of its schedule in the past, narrow losses against tough 4A and 5A foes are now translating into wins for Stephenville.
The Honeybees (7-19) narrowly missed a second straight sweep Tuesday night, riding 13 aces to a four-set, 25-21, 25-16, 26-28, 25-20 victory over Peaster at Gandy Gym.
Kourtney Seaton had 14 kills and 11 digs, Kaleigh Conger added 13 kills and nine digs and Mikayla Hobbs aced four serves, landed eight kills and racked up nine digs to lead the Honeybees.
Streaking junior Morgan Gibson rotated into the middle whenever Seaton was off the front line, and continued the tear she has been on since visiting West a week prior with seven kills and six blocks.
"Morgan hit .500 against West last Tuesday and .500 against Graham on Friday," Metzger pointed out. "She's really coming on and was big for us again tonight."
Chelsea Gillespie also had a big night with a season-best eight kills.
The Honeybees managed to amass their 13 aces with only four service errors.
"That was the biggest key," said head coach Fran Metzger. "When you can serve aggressively without the errors, you can stay on the attack instead of being back on your heels with the other team attacking you."
Stephenville survived 31 unforced errors, many of them passing miscues. Metzger said that will be the focus in practice as the Bees are idle Friday then host Robinson in next Tuesday's final pre-district tuneup. Stephenville begins its 7-3A title defense at Hillsboro on Friday, Sept. 27.
Stephenville trailed 16-11 before finishing the fourth and decisive set on a 14-4 run. The rally began with two Peaster errors and consecutive kill shots by Conger. Peaster still led 17-15 until a Seaton kill, a Greyhound error and a kill by Gillespie put the Bees on top 18-17.
Stephenville committed a net penalty on the next point, but another Gillespie kill put the Honeybees up for good. Hobbs followed with a kill down the left line, then Tiara Green aced a serve to make it 21-18. A Seaton kill, three Peaster errors and a Hobbs kill on match point finished it.
The first set was back and forth for 40 points, but that's when Gibson took over from the middle. She used a kill to tie the score at 20-20, and followed an ace by Mikayla Hobbs with two straight block points to make it 23-20. Conger lined the game-winning kill down the left line three points later.
Peaster led the opening set 12-8 after an 11-4 run early on, but Stephenville outscored the Greyhounds 17-9 the rest of the way.
Gibson had another impressive run near the end of the second set, particularly on one point when she blocked three straight Peaster shots, the third landing to make it 22-16. She also teamed up with Chelsea Gillespie for a block that made it 24-16 before a Peaster penalty ended the set.
Conger had four kills in the second set, three of them in a six-point stretch to open up a 12-8 lead. Two errors and a penalty by Stephenville helped Peaster tie it at 15-15 before the Bees scored 10 of the final 11.
Peaster, which led by at least two in every set, built a 17-11 advantage in the third before Stephenville tried to come from behind for the sweep. A 5-1 run with the help of Peaster errors cut the deficit to 18-16, but back-to-back Honeybee mistakes slowed the charge.
A kill by Gibson, an ace by Hobbs and two kills by Conger made it 22-21 Peaster, and the Bees finally evened the match at 24-24. Conger brought up match point at 25-24 with a kill, but three errors helped Peaster steal back the advantage at 27-26, and Karissa Wolfenberger tipped home the set winner.
Stephenville improved to 3-3 when not playing 4A, 5A or out of state competition. Two of those losses are to reigning 3A champ and fourth-ranked Abilene Wylie and the other is to West. The Bees have also defeated Sweetwater and Graham, both in straight sets.