MINERAL WELLS — The Stephenville Honeybees saw their successful 2018 volleyball season come to an end Tuesday night in a 25-20, 25-21, 25-13 loss to 10th-ranked Decatur at Mineral Wells High School.
The Honeybees had earned second place behind powerhouse Glen Rose in District 7-4A, and won 15 of their last 17 contests entering the matchup against the Lady Eagles. They finished at 29-18 overall. Decatur improved to 34-11.
The Honeybees defeated Krum in five sets in the bi-district round of the playoffs, then swept Graham 3-0 in the area round.
Former all-state player Shay Douglas was hired after last season as the replacement for former SHS head coach Fran Metzger, who retired. Douglas was on the 2003 SHS squad that Metzger coached to a state championship.
This was the ninth season as a head coach for Douglas, who came to SHS from Giddings. She will lose six seniors to graduation.
“I’ve never connected with a senior group as fast as I did this year,” Douglas said. “I’m sad to see them go. They are a lot of fun. They worked hard, and adapted to what I wanted to do. But the future is bright for Stephenville volleyball.”
Douglas noted that the SHS freshman volleyball team completed its season with a 25-1 record.
“We’re returning a lot of these kids,” Douglas added. “I expect good things from them.”
Two of the seniors, Jayci Morton and Hannah Huckabee, were first-team all-district performers as juniors. But libero Gabie Lucero, the 2017 Newcomer of the Year, will be back along with five juniors on the current roster.
The Honeybees had been ranked 20th in the state in Class 4A by the Texas Girls Coaches Association in its final regular-season poll. Decatur was tied for 10th in the most recent TGCA rankings, which is limited to only the top 10 in postseason play.
Despite having only two seniors on their roster, the Lady Eagles proved to be extremely tough — particularly in blocking shots at the net. They had been ranked as high as No. 3 earlier this season, and even upset three-time defending Class 6A state champion Hebron in the Northwest ISD Volleyball Classic.
Decatur’s head coach is Clark Oberle, who led Argyle to a 4A state championship in 2015.
“I think we had a good game plan. We just didn’t execute,” Douglas said. “Decatur is a good team. I wouldn’t be shocked if they won regional. They’re a good team and they outplayed us.”
In the first set Tuesday, the teams were tied at 11 before Decatur won 14 of the next 23 points.
The Honeybees gained an 11-10 lead in the second set, then fell behind before tying it again at 18. Decatur secured seven of the next 10 points to go on top two sets to none.
Decatur raced to an 8-1 lead early before closing out the match with the final 12-point margin in the third set.
The win sent the Lady Eagles to the Region I tournament at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, which starts Friday. The regional champion qualifies for the state tournament in Garland that begins Nov. 15.