After Canyon Randall won game four of this best of five regional semifinals volleyball match Friday night against Aledo at Kimbrell Arena in Abilene in convincing fashion 25-12 to square the match at two games each, momentum was clearly on the Lady Raiders’ side.
And with the fifth and deciding game a short set – first to 15 points wins the match but have to win by two points – it looked like a tall task for the Ladycats to regain the momentum and “take the match back.”
But paced by five kills from senior hitter Maddie Goings, the Ladycats took game five, 16-14, to win the match.
The 28-26, 19-25, 25-17, 12-25, 16-14 victory advances the Ladycats to the regional finals against top-ranked Amarillo, a winner in the other semifinal over Boswell.
“It took all the energy we had left and believing in each other to win game five,” Maddie Goings said. “That’s really what it came down to. We believe that the person next to you can do their job just as well as you will. We had to have trust with each other to get the job done. (Before game five) we told each other we did not want this to be our last game.”
Ladycats head coach Kathy Goings said she felt big momentum swings in games three and four. The Ladycats had the momentum after breaking a 1-1 tie in games to win game three, but Randall gained momentum back in the fourth game when the Lady Raiders squared the match.
“Oh my, what momentum changes we had,” Kathy Goings said. “Our girls knew they had worked too hard to come this far and lose. It admittedly wasn’t our best match tonight; we were off all night. But to win this in five … a lot of things were off for us. In game five our seniors continually told each other that this isn’t their last game, and the girls pulled out the match and hopefully tomorrow (in the regional final) we will play better.”
The Ladycats and No. 1 Amarillo will play for the Class 5A, Region I championship at 11 a.m. Saturday at Kimbrell Arena, on the campus of McMurry University. The winner will advance to the Class 5A state tournament.
Game five was tied 5-5 after 10 rallies. Maddie Goings sent down three kills and senior hitter Amanda Norman added a kill after a Randall return error.
The game was tied three more times before settling at 11-11 after Randall was called for a lift infraction. The Ladycats took their first lead since the third rally when a Randall return sailed wide as Aledo led 12-11.
A huge play followed as Aledo junior middle Sarah Haeussler elevated for a timely block to increase the AHS advantage to 13-11 in a game where 15 points decides the winner. But Randall outside hitter Ashton Burris kept her team in the game with a kill to cut the Ladycats’ lead to 13-12.
On the next rally, Randall sent a serve long as Aledo held a 14-12 lead and was one point away from clinching the match. However, on the ensuing rally, Randall outside hitter Ashley Brown sent down a kill to cut the AHS lead to 14-13.
Still needing a point to win, a return error on the Ladycats knotted this intense and exciting fifth game at 14-14.
In fifth games, just like in a game to 25, a two-point cushion is needed to clinch the game. The Ladycats took a 15-14 lead when Maddie Goings fired a kill from the back row to give Aledo a 15-14 lead as game five again went to match point.
On the ensuing rally, Randall sent a return wide, and the jubilant Ladycats celebrated their first trip back to the regional finals since 2014.
Maddie Goings led all hitters with 25 kills, with senior middle Emily Smith adding 11 and Haeussler and Norman each finishing with six. Weiss finished with a match-high 45 assists.
The opening game was tied 12 times before settling at 20-20. Aledo followed with a 4-1 run – courtesy of a pair of kills from Smith, a kill by Goings and a combination block from Weiss and Smith – to take a 24-21 lead. But Randall scored the next four points to take a 25-24 lead.
On the next rally, Weiss sent a quick set to Smith for a kill to knot the contest at 25, and the teams traded points as the opener went to 26-26. The Ladycats scored the next two points – on an ace by junior libero Allegra Rivas and a Randall return error – as AHS took a 1-0 lead in games.
Randall held the lead for most of game two, and a kill by hitter Paxton Patterson sealed the game and squared up the match at a game apiece.
Game three was also a tight affair, but with the score at 14-14, the Ladycats went on a 7-0 run to take a commanding 21-14 lead. Goings sent down three kills in the run with Smith adding a pair, and Norman fired an ace. Randall also committed a return error in the run, and Weiss and Smith combined for a block.
Seven rallies later, a crafty dink on the left side by Goings sealed game three and gave the Ladycats a 2-1 lead in games.
It was all Randall in game four. The Lady Raiders jumped out to a 10-5 lead before going on a 9-2 run to take a 19-7 lead. A kill by Brown clinched the game and tied the match a two games each.