CANYON LAKE - There probably wasn’t a much tougher matchup.
The Marion Bulldogs volleyball team ran into that scenario for the second straight year in bi-district play Monday night at Canyon Lake High School, going up against the No. 1 seed and undefeated in District 25-3A-1, Johnson City LBJ.
The Eagles came into the game ranked No. 13 in the Texas Girls Coaches Association volleyball poll, and had only dropped four sets the entire district season on their way to a perfect 16-0 mark.
While the Bulldogs would lose the match in three straight 18-25, 18-25 and 11-25, the first set was a battle.
“We were in the fight the first set,” head coach Taylor Creamer said. “The girls came out with a lot of energy and executed the game plan really well.”
The set was tied at 16-16 before the Eagles went on the decisive 9-2 run to close it out. A long rally at that point in the match saw both teams with some incredible blocks and digs to extend the rally, before the Eagles got the kill to win the point.
The rally seemed to change the momentum in the match. While the Bulldogs had played clean volleyball prior to that point, the errors began to creep in.
“It was a little bit of that,” Creamer said. “But when you have one error on top of the other, it’s kind of hard to bounce back from.
“Volleyball is a game of playing to 25 points, it doesn’t take much for the other team to push and get those points first.”
The run carried over into the second set, when the Bulldogs had setting and service errors that staked the Eagles to a commanding 12-2 lead.
“We let them put too many points together,” Creamer said. “You’re never going to have a shutout game, especially in the playoffs, but we have to make sure we don’t allow them to do that.
“It’s hard because mistakes are so evident in volleyball. In basketball and football mistakes happen but then, sometimes, nothing comes of it. In volleyball you make a mistake it’s a point.”
The Bulldogs would rally at that point, but the hole was too deep to recover.
Senior Lizzie Abrameit led the way offensively with six kills, while fellow seniors Toryn Autry and Madyson Schulze had four and three kills, respectively. Senior Maddie Hill also played her last game for the Bulldogs.
“Those seniors are going to be missed,” Creamer said. “They’ve been a huge asset to the growth of this program, a lot of them have been playing on varsity for some time.”
Libero Ingrid Nava, Madison Doss and Hayley Mabee led the way defensively with seven, seven and five digs each. All will return for the Bulldogs next season.
“We’ve got some holes to fill, but other than that everyone is coming back next year,” Creamer said. “We have some good prospects coming up form the JV, I like what I see and the future is bright for them.”
Marion finished the year 18-20 overall.
The Lady Panthers won their bi-district match against Carizzo Springs in dominating fashion, sweeping the match in three straight sets, 25-8, 25-15 and 25-15, to improve to 35-8 on the year.
Kelly Helms had 14 kills in the match, with Madison McCaig getting six. Ashley Gosch and Carolyn Burch contributed offensively with three aces each. Burch had 24 digs to lead the defensive effort, while Sara Benner had 19.
The match moved Navarro to the area round, where they will take on Sinton on Thursday night in Karnes City. Tip off is 6:30 p.m.
The Lady Mats traveled to New Braunfels for their bi-district match on Tuesday night to take on Dripping Springs after press time. See the story online on Wednesday at www.seguingazette.com.
Kevin Duke is the sports editor of the Seguin Gazette. You can e-mail him at email@example.com .