When Abilene Wylie served for match point and the ball landed perfectly along the back line on Stephenville’s side, it was a fitting end to Tuesday night’s match at Gandy Gymnasium.
It was Wylie’s 17th ace of the match and its fourth since trailing Stephenville 20-17 in the fourth set, and it sealed the 25-16, 25-21, 19-25, 25-23 win for the Lady Bulldogs.
“Our service reception is hurting us,” Stephenville head coach Fran Metzger said. “It’s the same thing that hurt us in Duncanville. We can play with teams for a while, then a couple of servers will hurt us.”
The result has been losses in four of five matches since winning the season opener, and Stephenville is now 3-5 on the young season. The Bees will be back in tournament action this weekend when they travel to New Braunfels.
Wylie, the No. 9 team in this week’s 3A poll, committed only five service errors, while Stephenville had as many service errors as aces with eight each.
The Bees’ serving got better as the match went along. Middle blocker Kaylee Davis smashed three aces in the fourth set after she and libero Kensie Colegrove each aced one serve in the third.
“Our serving got better later in the match, and our blocking was good,” Metzger said. “We just have to work on our service reception.”
Much of the blocking again came from Davis, but she received plenty of help from improving sophomore Natalie Tiner, who registered seven kills and five block-points.
“Natalie was kind of tentative and wide-eyed in the Duncanville tournament, but she looked a lot more comfortable tonight,” Metzger said. “She’s blocking really well, and so is Kaylee. That’s one thing we’re seeing is that our blocking is better than it was last year.”
Davis had a block-point to finish off the third set and keep Stephenville alive after losing the first two. Colegrove served the final four points of the third, with an ace, a Brooklyn Moody kill and Davis’ block finishing off a 5-0 run for the win.
The Bees looked ready to force a fifth set with a 20-17 lead in game four, but Wylie landed three straight aces to pull even and later aced the match winner.
Stephenville led 11-7 in the first set before Wylie got a side out then served 10 straight points for an 18-11 lead. The Bees never got within six the rest of the way.
The second set was even at 14-14 before Wylie scored four straight to seize control. Stephenville pulled within two three times down the stretch before committing a service error and hitting error for Wylie’s final two points.