Stephenville, after honoring their seniors before the match, ended the regular season with a sweep of district rival Cleburne by the scores of 25-13, 25-14, and 25-19.
Stephenville (22-10, 12-2) ended Cleburne's chance to slip into the playoffs with this victory.
Cleburne put up a fight in the third set but the Honeybees were simply too powerful for the visiting Lady Jackets.
The Bees jumped out to a 4-1 lead following two kills by Bailey Williams, one kill by Hilde Talsma, and a rejection by Williams and senior Makayla Elliott.
Cleburne bounced back to cut the Bees' lead to one at 6-5, but the Bees scored eight of the next 11 points to take a 14-7 lead, The streak was ended when senior Allison Snow went under the net in a sliding effort to save the ball.
Cleburne tried to hold on, but in the end the Bees were too dominant. After Cleburne pulled to within four points at 23-19, senior Claire Goodman landed a kill to put Cleburne one point away from going home for good. The opposing Lady Jackets sent the next point out of bounds giving the Bees the sweep.
It didn't start out so well for the Bees when Cleburne jumped on top with a 5-2 lead in the first set. After a Meghan Muir kill, senior Sage Lasater served up four points to give the Bees their first lead and they never looked back.
When the score reached 10-7, senior Alyssa Parham converted nine consecutive serves, three of which were aces. This streak all but won the set for the Bees.
next eight points, but it only delayed the inevitable.
With the score 22-13, Elliott landed a kill shot and Lasater served an ace to put the next two points on the board for the Bees. Cleburne then sent the ball out of bounds for the Stephenville victory.
The teams swapped points for the first five plays of the second set, but then Elliott rejected the Cleburne kill and converted the next five serves, giving the Bees an 8-3 lead.
Each team scored seven points over the next 14 plays, keeping the Bees' lead to five at 15-10.
After Cleburne sent the ball out of bounds to make the score 16-12, Brianna Bledsoe took the serves. Bledsoe served up five straight points to put the game out of reach.
Elliott killed the ball to give Stephenville the ball back and after three plays, and Christina Murphy landed a kill shot to end the game.
The leading killers for the Bees were Goodman with nine, Murphy with six and Elliott with five. Lasater led the team with 20 digs, while Elliott finished in second with 13. Bledsoe led the team with 18 assists while Allison Snow added 12.
The Bees will play a practice game in Copperas Cove at 6:30 p.m. Monday to prepare for the playoffs that will begin next weekend.
Stephenville’s opponent will be decided after Tuesday's playoff game between Southwest and O.D. Wyatt. The Bees will play the loser of this game, while district rivals Joshua and Crowley will battle in a playoff of their own. The winner of this game will go on to play the winner of the Southwest and Wyatt, while the loser will be done for the season.
Nathan Bural is a sports reporter for the Empire-Tribune. He can be reached at (254) 965-3124, ext. 241.