GRANBURY — Stephenville fought back from an 0-2 deficit in the Class 4A Region I area volleyball finals at Granbury High School Thursday, but couldn't complete the comeback in a 3-2, season-ending loss to Aledo.
The Honeybees, who finish the year 22-18 overall, were co-runners-up in District 8-4A and defeated Fort Worth Dunbar in the bi-district round of the playoffs. Aledo, champions of District 6-4A, advances to the regional quarterfinals to face 8-4A champ Mansfield Legacy.
After winning sets three and four to force a decisive fifth game, the Bees couldn't hold serve and committed too many errors as Aledo prevailed (25-19, 25-17, 17-25, 18-25, 15-10).
Stephenville used an early barrage of kills and blocks to build an early third set lead. Aledo, which had cruised until that point, never led in the third. The Bees were up 7-6 before scoring three of the next four to stretch the advantage to 10-7. The Lady Cats would pick up only one earned point the rest of the set, as Stephenville pulled away behind kills from Anglin and Christina Murphy.
The Bees carried the momentum over to the start of the fourth game when a Murphy kill, an Aledo error and a Macy Moncrief service ace made it 3-0.
Kaylee Davis would later serve eight straight times. Aledo called timeouts at the beginning of the rally while trailing 12-6, and again when a kill by Honeybee Bailey Williams made it 17-6. The Lady Cats couldn't slow the coming wave, however, as a Murphy kill made it 18-6 before the run ended with a side out.
“I saw some very good ball being played in the third and fourth sets,” said Stephenville head coach Fran Metzger, who has led the Honeybees to the postseason 11 of the last 12 years, a run that included capturing the 4A title in 2003. “I thought it was definitely some of the best ball we've played all year. We got behind early, but I was so proud of the girls for the way they fought back.”
The lead hit 12 again at 22-10, but Aledo wouldn't go quietly. The Lady Cats finished the set on an 8-3 run, and despite the losing to force a fifth game, recaptured the momentum.
“We went ahead and won the set, and we had to,” explained Metzger, “but the momentum switched during their run at the end of the fourth, and with the fifth game only going to 15, you don't have much time to try and get it back.”
The Bees scored three of the first four in the fifth set, but Aledo came right back with back-to-back kills to tie it up. The Bees moved back ahead, 5-4, but Aledo responded by scoring the next three and six of the next seven to take a commanding 10-6 lead.
A block and a kill by Anglin pulled the Bees back within two at 11-9, but it was as close as they would get before three Lady Cat kills and a Stephenville hitting error sealed the deal.
Aledo was too strong early on, as senior outside hitter Allie Bettinger drilled 11 kills in the first two sets to fuel the early Lady Cat lead. She was limited to only four kills during the third and fourth games, then came back with four in the short fifth set to finish with a match-high 19.
Anglin landed 14 kills for Stephenville and posted a .379-hitting percentage while also blocking eight shots at the net, four of which went directly for points. The Bees totaled 23 blocks on the night, 14 of them for scores.
Murphy recorded another double-double with 17 kills and 11 digs. The junior outside hitter hit .372 for the match. Davis made nine kills while hitting a blistering .421.
Junior Rachel Choate set the SHS hitters up with 27 assists, while classmate Brianna Bledsoe was right on her heels with 26. Mara Christian was everywhere defensively with 25 digs. Moncrief and Bledsoe each added 11.
The Bees aced only five serves while committing eight service errors, just two days after tallying a 15-7 ace-to-error ratio against Dunbar.
The loss ends the careers of three Stephenville players who so often stood side-by-side at the net. Anglin, a middle blocker, and outside hitters Meghan Muir and Hilde Talsma are all seniors.
“Those are all good, hard working young women who we will miss,” said Metzger. “I believe that as the season went on, all three of our seniors took on big leadership roles, and that's the way it should be.”