No. 16 Stephenville (25-4) swept its second straight playoff opponent Tuesday in Aledo, but the Honeybees found themselves pushed to the limit in a 28-26, 25-19, 25-22 area win against Springtown (20-5).
For the Honeybees, it was all about rallying at the right times and curbing Springtown’s momentum. For Springtown, it was trying to figure out a way to stop the Honeybee’s multi-pronged offense that produced 11 kills each by Landri Wither and Jayli Matthews, while Alee McClendon recorded nine.
McClendon may have been second in kills, but she was first creating the Honeybee’s offensive force in the final set win when she recorded two blocks during a rally and then punched home a kill that started a Stephenville surge after being down 19-13.
Consecutive kills by Matthews and McClendon tied up the score at 21-21, and Stephenville never looked back from that point finishing the match with a 25-22 win.
“We knew this was a big game and that they are a respectable ball club, “We knew we had to come out play well, and I think we were a little nervous and tight at first. We had some craziness that happened, but we rallied and pulled out of it.”
Early on, it looked like a match could go either way as the two teams exchanged blows, and neither squad got more than a two-point lead. The score was tied at 10-10, 14-14, 16-16, 18-18, 19-19, 20-20, 21-21, 23-23, 24-24 and 26-26 before McClendon provided consecutive kills to put the set away at 28-26.
Things were not made any easier when the Bees had one point reversed and then lost a point due to an improper rotation.
“Going into this match, we preached about staying aggressive,” Douglas said. “The girls handled the adversity well. When we called the timeout, we talked about how we were going out there to be aggressive.”
After taking the 1-0 lead, Stephenville found itself off-balance against the Lady Porcupines’ front attack and trailed 6-2 before going on a 9-0 run to take an 11-6 lead. Springtown slipped back into contention and tied the set at 17-17 before Coach Shay Douglas called a timeout.
The break worked as the Honeybees climbed back into the driver’s seat with a solid finish and an 8-2 run to take the set 25-19.
Springtown continued to hang with the Bees, and Stephenville struggled to remain consistent at times, which allowed the Lady Porcupines to build a 19-13 lead.
Undaunted, Stephenville remained strong up front, and the Bees’ speed and height took over with McClendon recording her two consecutive solo blocks.
The great defensive plays seemed to take away Springtown’s will, and it was only a matter of time as the Bees chipped away at the lead before delivering the finishing blows.
The win is the third consecutive area championship for Douglas and her Bees, who will be looking to add a regional-quarter finalist trophy to their collection later this week.The Bees will now advance to the regional quarterfinals to take on Graham (26-2) in Mineral Wells Friday in a 6:30 p.m. match.