DUBLIN — The Bangs Lady Dragons put forth a spirited effort, but second-year head coach Adrian Welch’s squad was not quite up to the task of derailing the 16th-ranked Grandview Lady Zebras.
District 8-2A co-champ Grandview captured the Region I-2A bi-district volleyball championship over Bangs in straight sets, 25-15, 25-9, 25-21, Tuesday night at Dublin High School. The Lady Zebras will now face District 6-2A champion Henrietta in the area round of the playoffs.
Bangs (13-20) finished 7-2A action without a victory for the second year in a row, but again qualified for the postseason due to being a member of a three-team district. Grandview (30-10) shared its district title with No. 15 Maypearl — which eliminated the Lady Dragons in the first round last year — and the co-champions elected to toss a coin to determine playoff seeding.
Though the Lady Dragons struggled throughout district play, Welch was pleased with the effort her team displayed Tuesday night.
“It wasn’t easy for Grandview,” Welch said. “I’m very proud of them and I hope they’re proud of themselves. They really fought hard tonight.”
Eight of the 11 Lady Dragons suited up will be back next season, which gives Welch confidence that Bangs can extend its string of consecutive postseason appearances to five in 2008.
“I’ve had a young team for two years now, but hopefully they will continue to develop,” Welch said. “Building a program takes a while and they’ve improved tremendously from where we were at this time last year. This team has been up and down and they’ve had a new teammate every couple of weeks and that’s hard to adjust to.”
The three seniors on the Lady Dragons’ roster — outside hitter Jacklyn McKee, defensive specialist Amanda McCombs and middle blocker Shiloh Morris — played in their final high school volleyball game Tuesday.
“All three of them have worked really hard all year and I’m definitely going to miss them,” Welch said. “Shiloh, I’m proud of her because I moved her to the back row and she has stepped it up defensively. Jacklyn is my dependable one on the right side and I know if the ball is set for her, she’ll hit it. Amanda moves her feet really well and plays good defense.”
The Lady Dragons hung around for a while in the opening set, struggled with their service reception in the second set and almost made a rally to force a fourth set.
“Our first game we came out with intensity and we hung in there with them,” Welch said. “The second game we lost our intensity and we lost our focus a little bit. In the third game we got behind, but we made a comeback at the end.”
In the final set, Bangs trailed 21-12 but chalked up six consecutive points — its longest run of the night — to close to within 21-18. That spurt forced Grandview head coach Lisa Ellis to take her only timeout.
Lady Dragon Sarah Bartek delivered a kill during the run and LeCrecia Apple served an ace, while the other four points came from Grandview being out of rhythm due to numerous substitutions made earlier in the set.
Vanecia Spencer recorded a kill to end Bangs’ run, which gave the Lady Zebras a 22-18 edge coming out of the break. Spencer added another kill and Bartek’s block of another Spencer spike landed out of bounds as Grandview’s lead reached 24-20.
An errant spike by Lady Zebra Chanci Pruitt trimmed the gap to 24-21, but Marissa Cooksey then delivered her second consecutive set-ending kill to close out Bangs’ season.
In the second set, Bangs and Grandview split the first 10 points, then Lady Zebra Loni Woolley unleashed three straight serves the Lady Dragons couldn’t get back over the net. Bangs’ defensive troubles continued from that point on as Grandview quickly grabbed an 11-5 advantage, then scored 14 of the final 18 points in the set.
The opener saw Bangs trail by no more than five points through the first half of the set. Spikes from McKee, Apple and Bartek all resulted in points as the Lady Dragons were down just 15-10.
But the Lady Zebras’ experience began to show as they slowly pulled away with eight of the next nine points, opening a 23-11 advantage.
The set concluded with a kill from Spencer.