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With a giant leap into the air and a powerful slap to the ball Aledo senior Jordan Jacobs sent the Aledo Ladycats into the third round of the volleyball playoffs.
“This is the biggest rival ever, and to win against Stephenville is the most amazing feeling, it really is.”
It took four matches for the Ladycats to defeat longtime rivals the Stephenville Honeybees at Burleson High School, but Jacobs’ 17 kills, five blocks, and three aces mixed with fellow senior Taylor Brown’s 32 digs and two kills helped push Aledo into the Regional Quarter Finals where they will face the Granbury Lady Pirates.
“It always feels good to beat Stephenville,” Aledo head coach Kathy Goings said. “We know it’s always going to be tough because Stephenville’s always going to give Aledo their very best.”
Match 1: Aledo 25, Stephenville 20
The soft sounds of applause eventually evolved into a rhythm clapping and loud cheers as the Ladycats lost the lead for only a few brief moments in the inaugural match of the evening. The roar of the nearly 100 Aledo fans in attendance filled the air of the Burleson High School Arena after the Ladycats broke a 14-14 tie to regain the lead and the inevitable win.
Stephenville led for only seven sets in the match. Their longest lead was stretched over an accumulation of three points after they broke an 11-11 tie. The score was evened out six times during the match, but that didn’t stop Aledo from gaining a five-point lead on the Honeybees on a 10.5 volley that put them ahead 24-19.
With the offensive advantages of seniors Christa Daniel and Lindsey Baird, the Ladycats finished the match on a 25-20 score.
Daniel finished the night with five kills, 29 digs and three blocks. Baird gathered seven kills, three blocks, and one ace.
“Nothing would hold us back,” Daniel said. “We would just swing as hard as we could.”
And it was Aledo’s don’t quit motivation that kept the Ladycats competing.
“We were giving them some hard driven balls and we did get some good blocks there at the end and we were finally picking up some block recoveries and able to put the ball back down,” Goings said.
Match 2: Aledo 27, Stephenville 25
If electronic pressure devices were installed on the back of every seat inside the arena Thursday night, they would all would’ve read zero. In a match that was tied between the Ladycats and Honeybees 11 times, fans were sitting on the edge of the seats or standing anxiously in the bleachers.
Stephenville scored first and Aledo came back to tie the match five times before taking the lead 9-8 on a six-second volley. The Ladycats would hold their gain for a total of three points before the Honeybees came back to tie the match at 12 only to have it broken by the Ladycats.
With the help of junior Tyler Gromann and sophomore Mallory Powell, Aledo held their lead for eight more points before the Honeybees came back to tie the match again, this time at 21. The Ladycats came back to tie the match back up at 22, 23 and 24 before they went ahead with a 25-24 lead.
“I was very nervous, but I knew I needed to play for my team,” Powell said. “I needed to win for them, so I just had it in my head that I was going to score and set good.”
Powell ended the game with a total of 41 assists, two aces and four kills. Gromann finished with six kills and three blocks.
Aledo needed just one point to seal the victory, but Stephenville wasn’t going down without a fight.
The Honeybees came back to tie the match at 25.
Aledo grabbed a 26-25 lead on a 12.3 volley before winning it all 27-25.
“I’m their biggest cheerleader,” Goings said, “I’m going to keep right at it.”
Match 3: Aledo 21, Stephenville 25
A three-match sweep to advance in the playoffs over their longtime foes just wasn’t in the cards for the Ladycats.
Stephenville did not allow Aledo to have a single lead.
The Honeybees gathered six points before the Ladycats evened the score. Stephenville pulled away and would not allow the lead to slip away for the remainder of the match. Aledo crept closer to try and tie or break away with a go-ahead point, but the closest they got was a three-point deficit with a 23-20 score.
Aledo gained some ground thanks to the speed and hard-hitting kills of sophomore Briana Sharratt, but the Honeybees were too much to handle and a fourth match forced with a 25-21 Stephenville victory.
“I don’t know if we were a little nervous going into game three, but we made some errors,” Goings said. “It got on a roll of errors to begin with and put us in a hole.”
Match 4: Aledo 28, Stephenville 26
You could practically cut the tension with a knife as match four began.
Would there be a game five? Was this going to be it for Aledo? Just two of the many questions that could be conjured up by reading the faces of the Aledo fans sitting in the west stands of Burleson High School Arena.
Aledo started by scoring the first point--something they didn’t do in the previous three matches. But Stephenville was still on an adrenaline rush from their previous victory.
The Honeybees tied it up on the next volley and held the lead until the Ladycats retied the match at six. Stephenville broke the tie, but Aledo came back to tie at 7 and held the lead for four more points.
“Some of the adrenaline in these playoff games,” Goings said, “we’ve got to learn to harness that and use it to our advantage.”
Stephenville had a brief 12-11 lead but Aledo earned 10 more points to take it back. The Ladycats had a 21-18 lead until the Honeybees evened out the score on a 4.9 volley.
The lead shifted back and forth before Aledo battled thanks to the aggressive kills of Sharratt back to pull ahead 27-26.
Aledo were now on their feet. The cheering and applause of the Ladycat faithful grew into an indescribable thundering.
And then it happened.
A 9.3-second volley bulleted to the floor and Aledo won it 28-26.
Sharratt capped off the night with 13 kills and four blocks.
“We did the best we could and came out and won,” the 6-foot, 1-inch Sharratt said after the game. “It’s overwhelming, it’s amazing.”
Even Goings, who knows the rivalry all too well, couldn’t hold back the emotion of winning the Area Championship.
“Thank God we won that game,” she said bitting down on her back teeth. “We sealed it.”
The Regional Quarter Finals are scheduled for next week and will be played either Nov. 8 or 9.
Stay with The Community News as more information on the third round of the playoffs becomes available.
Be sure to see full video highlights of the volleyball victory over Stephenville and the basketball scrimmages here at community-news.com this weekend.