Sports and Outdoors

     
   

Lady Buckeyes oust Lady Panthers, 3-0
By Sam Epps
Special to The Monitor
BROWNSBORO–The Mabank Lady Panthers had their state playoff dreams dashed Tuesday, as they lost a 3-0 regional quarterfinals volleyball playoff match to the District 15-3A Gilmer Lady Buckeyes at Brownsboro.
The Lady Panthers ended their season at 28-6, with a District 13-3A championship (going 10-0 in loop play) and an area championship.
Gilmer will advance to the regional tournament, scheduled to begin Friday at the Texas A&M University at Commerce campus.
In a cat-and-mouse match, both teams swapped the leads throughout, as one would edge ahead, the other would rally to tie and then take a lead, and the first would rally, in turn.
Gilmer prevailed in three straight, 25-22, 25-23 and 25-21.
“The scores were very close,” Mabank head coach Stacy Shelton said afterward. “In the first game, there were nine ties; in the second game, it was tied 13 times, and in the third game, it was tied four times.
“The difference was unforced errors,” Shelton added. “We had way more than Gilmer.”
Mabank had 17 unforced errors, 12 of them on serves, Shelton said.
“You just can’t have bad nights like we did,” she said. “Gilmer was a great defensive team, and passed the ball well. We did not serve or receive the ball well at all.”
The Lady Panthers scored only 61 percent on receiving serves, and only 68 percent on digs, Shelton pointed out.
Those service receive problems showed early, when Lady Buckeye senior Whitney Brantley gave Gilmer a 1-0 lead by nailing an ace.
By the time game one was tied at 16-16, the lead had changed five times.
The Gilmer girls never had more than a three-point lead, and that’s how game one ended, with the Lady Buckeyes on top by three.
In game two, Mabank took an early 3-0 lead, and kept the lead until Gilmer jumped ahead 9-8.
The same cat-and-mouse chase ensued, with numerous lead changes, with Mabank eventually taking a 22-21 lead.
Gilmer had a three-point scoring run to regain the lead, but Mabank threatened, coming to within 24-23.
The Lady Buckeyes scored once more, snagging game two 25-23.
In game three, Gilmer served first, but the Lady Panthers pulled in the first point.
Mabank led the game until Gilmer tied it up at 13-13.
Gilmer eventually forged a six-point lead, 22-16, but Mabank’s offense picked up the pace to close the gap to 23-19.
The Gilmer girls held on, however, to secure a four-point win.
Miranda Groom had an outstanding game for the Lady Panthers, notching 15 kills, one block, 13 digs and one save.
Hali Schultz, Shadia Rueb and Bridgette Tanner dominated the net for Mabank.
Rueb and Schultz had eight kills each, with Rueb adding two blocks and two digs, while Schultz had one block, seven digs and one save.
Tanner finished with nine kills, two blocks and nine digs.
Setter Kelsi Reynolds notched 40 assists in the contest, along with two digs, while Pheng Leav had 10 digs and two saves.
Kelly Hitzfeld had two kills and four blocks, while Lindsie Amyx added four digs.
“We had a tremendous season, and I hate ending it not playing as well as we know we can play,” Shelton said.
“Our girls have a lot of heart and spirit, and it’s killing them not to be able to play another match this season,” she added.
“They truly love the sport of volleyball, and I love each and every one of my 14 players,” she said. “I could not ask for a better or more caring group of athletes. When I look up the word ‘team’ in the dictionary, I see a picture of all 14 of my players.”

Monitor Photo/Sam Epps
Mabank’s Miranda Groom (center) receives a Gilmer hit, as teammates Lindsie Amyx (10) and Pheng Leav (4) look on during the Lady Panthers’ regional quarterfinals loss in Brownsboro Tuesday.

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