SNYDER — The Brownwood Lady Lions’ hopes of a return trip to the UIL Class 3A state volleyball tournament were dashed Saturday as the No. 2 Monahans Lady Loboes lived up to their billing and ended Brownwood’s season in straight sets, 25-18, 25-16, 25-12, in Region I area round action.
Following Tuesday’s bi-district victory over Borger — the seventh in a row for Brownwood — the Lady Lions (20-17) stated they would need to perform at a higher level to upend Monahans (37-5). While the Lady Lions didn’t bring their ‘A’ game to Snyder, they did fight to the bitter end.
Perhaps the greatest indication of the Lady Lions’ heart was displayed when Brownwood was two points away from a loss. Shelbie Harry dove into the bleachers to keep the ball alive, and despite fighting back obvious pain and tears, the junior remained in the game until its conclusion.
Saturday’s loss also marked the end of the careers of Brownwood seniors Julie Kennedy, Chloe Geye and Sheldyn Miller, the only members of the Lady Lion roster that played in last year’s state championship game.
The Lady Lion seniors steadied the ship early as Brownwood struggled finding the right chemistry before earning its sixth consecutive trip to the playoffs, and the trio continued its stellar play when the Lady Lions were at their best late in the season.
In Saturday’s season finale, Kennedy led Brownwood with 16 kills and three digs, Miller recorded five kills, three assists and four digs, and Geye notched two kills and three digs.
Alicia Castillo finished with one kill and one dig, while Harry and Sarah Underwood tallied two digs each. Kelsey Gober served an ace and was credited with three digs, while Melissa Rmeili collected 19 assists, one kill and one dig.
As hard as the Lady Lions fought, they were just no match for Monahans on Saturday, as the Lady Loboes got stronger as the match progressed.
Brownwood jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the opening set, with kills coming from Kennedy and Castillo, but Monahans quickly drew even at 4-all. The set was tied on four other occasions, the last being at 11-all following another kill from Kennedy.
Trailing just 16-15, things began to get away from the Lady Lions as a block, a kill, a lift call and a net violation buried Brownwood in a 20-15 hole. Monahans tacked on two more points to complete the 6-0 surge before Kennedy recorded a kill to cut the deficit to 22-16. By that point, however, Monahans was too close to securing the first set to be denied.
The Lady Lions also grabbed a 3-1 lead in the second set, but Monahans stormed back with nine of the next 10 points to seize control, 10-4. Brownwood cut the deficit to four points, 10-6, on a serve by Gober that Monahans could not handle, but the Lady Loboes controlled the rest of the set.
Monahans answered with a 7-1 run as a kill by Amy Rose gave the Lady Loboes their first double-digit lead at 17-7. Brownwood got no closer than eight points the rest of the set, that coming on a pair of kills by Kennedy that made the scores 20-13 and 22-14.
In the final set, Brownwood yielded the first seven points and never recovered. A block by Kali Lewis again gave Monahans a double-digit lead at 14-4, and Brownwood once more could not get any closer than eight points, that coming at 17-9 on a Kennedy kill.
Monahans’ lead peaked at 14 points, 24-10, on a service error by the Lady Lions, which put the Lady Loboes on the brink of victory.