With a bit of remorse after falling in the area round of the playoffs for a fourth straight year, but also with a smile as she keeps an eye on her program's seemingly bright future, Stephenville head coach Fran Metzger began to put behind her the 2010 volleyball season Friday.
Her Honeybees were eliminated in four sets by No. 8 Aledo Thursday night in Burleson, ending the careers of seven Stephenville seniors - Kensie Colegrove, Mayra Castillo, Leah Levisay, Gaby Chavarria, Kaylee Davis, Brooklyn Moody and Becca Emmons.
"They played their hearts out, they really did," Metzger said of her seniors. "The kids did everything I could have asked of them. We just had a couple points that didn't go our way in the end (Thursday)."
Colegrove averaged five digs per set this fall. She tied Castillo with a match-leading 22 digs Thursday. Davis and Moody each averaged right at three kills per set.
If there was one battle on the court Thursday that signified just what playoff matches man to seniors, it was at middle blocker, where standout Kaylee Davis went head-to-head with Aledo star Jordan Jacobs.
"They've been going at each other for a long time, since they were in junior high," Metzger said. "They're both good players and good leaders."
But Metzger has a junior coming back in Becca Hall, and appears loaded with promising sophomores, four of which were key contributors to her varsity team this year.
Sheridan Stokes was Stephenville's main setter, Dani Huckabee and Kristin Kaiser each had big impacts at the outside hitter positions and six-foot Natalie Tiner proved effective in rotating in at middle blocker.
"The fact that we had four sophomores out there (in the playoffs) shows everyone what a bright future we could have," Metzger said. "Natalie blocked well (Thursday) like she has all year. Kristin was huge in the first playoff match (18 kills Tuesday against Burleson), and Sheridan has been there all year for us at setter running the offense."
Stokes even had an impressive 17 digs Thursday. Huckabee had five kills in the third set, including three straight to give Stephenville a 9-6 edge. It was the only set the Bees won.
Another sophomore also saw brief action in the loss.
"Even when I put (sophomore JV standout) Leslie Billings out there she did well," Metzger said. "That's going to be a good class for us."
Stephenville finished the season 22-17. The Bees were District 8-4A runners up behind Waco Midway with a league mark of 8-2.
"We may not have accomplished everything we wanted, but I'm proud of what we did achieve," Metzger said. "The girls all played their hearts out and I'm proud of them for that."
Many of those girls will likely be rewarded when 8-4A all-district honors are released after Midway is eliminated from the playoffs, somewhere Stephenville has now been 13 times in the last 14 years.
With a junior and four sophomores coming back from this season's strong team, the Honeybees will be a safe bet to continue that playoff trend next fall.
And the way the sophomore class is developing, they might even be ready for a new trend of advancing past the area round, something Stephenville hasn't done since 2006.