SAGINAW – In a season of firsts, the Granbury Lady Pirates volleyball team pulled off the biggest first Tuesday night at Chisholm Trail High School.
When an attempted dink by Trophy Club Nelson went into the net, it signaled the end of the match and a step into history for the Lady Pirates.
The Lady Pirates won 22-25. 30-28, 18-25, 25-20, 18-16, advancing past the third round of the playoffs for the first time.
“I was so happy when I saw that, I thought I was going to pass out,” said senior outside hitter Hannah Hiler.
The Lady Pirates (40-5), ranked fifth in the state, moved on to the Class 4A Region I Tournament at Abilene Christian University this weekend. They were facing Dumas (32-12) in the semifinals last night at 7.
The winner of that match will face the winner between Aledo (38-7) and Amarillo (35-9) today at 2 p.m., also at ACU. That survivor will advance to the State Tournament in Garland Nov. 21-23.
This was the fifth straight year for the Lady Pirates to reach the third round. They finally broke through.
Two years ago it was Nelson who eliminated them.
And twice Tuesday they faced elimination as Nelson (25-16) was serving at match point.
A kill by Karis Beasley tied the fifth game at 14. Then, a kill by Amber Strange tied it at 15.
Beasley gave Granbury a 16-15 lead with an ace, but Nelson tied it on a kill by Haley Tippett and took over serve.
On the Lady Bobcats’ possession, a kill sailed long for a 17-16 Lady Pirates lead. Then, a match that featured one powerful kill after another by both teams, ended on the simplest of shot attempts.
“We did it! That’s all you can think of in a moment like that,” said Lady Pirate coach Tammy Clark.
“Our girls are just willing to stay in the fight no matter the circumstances, and they showed that again tonight.”
Clark admitted her team was under a proverbial microscope entering Tuesday’s match. Despite setting a school record for victories, winning their own tournament and topping rival Aledo – all firsts under Clark – the remaining question was whether they could finally break through to the regional tournament.
“There was huge pressure coming into this one, and we knew it would be tough,” said Clark.
Middle hitter Sydney Carpenter, the only other senior on the team, said while the Lady Pirates were a single point away from having their season end, she always believed they’d be the team moving on to Abilene.
“I honestly knew somehow, someway we were going to pull it off,” she said. “I would definitely say this is our biggest accomplishment in a season of big accomplishments.”
Nelson used a 5-0 run to take an 18-13 lead in the opening game. After Granbury closed to within 22-21, the Lady Bobcats closed with three of the final four points.
In the second game, Granbury let an 18-13 lead slip away as Nelson rallied to tie the match at 24. It ended, however, with consecutive kills by Beasley and Aubrey Ezell.
Clark admitted that had the Lady Pirates lost that game to fall into a 2-0 hole, it would have been a monumental obstacle to overcome.
“That would have been a big fight, but it was a good fight anyway,” she said.
“We just have an amazing team and were able to avoid that.”
A 12-5 run in the third game put Nelson up 20-13. Granbury closed to within 20-16, but the Lady Bobcats finished with a 5-2 run.
Granbury fell behind 4-1 in Game 4 and the Lady Pirates found themselves tied at 16. They finished with a 9-4 flurry to force Game 5.
Nelson raced out to a 6-3 lead in the fifth game before the Lady Pirates tied it at 10. From there they exchanged points until the finish.
RECORD FOR CRAIN
Breanna Crain posted a team-high 21 defensive digs against Nelson. That gives her 702 this season, breaking the previous school record of 684 set by Sierra Smith in 2011.
For her career, Crain, a junior, has 1,323 digs. Smith also holds the career record for the Lady Pirates with 1,375.
[email protected] | 817-573-7066, ext. 256
Class 4A Region I Quarterfinals
Granbury defeated Trophy Club Nelson 22-25, 30-28, 18-25, 25-20, 18-16
Aces – Amber Strange 3, Karis Beasley 2, team total 8.
Kills – Strange 13, Beasley 13, Aubrey Ezell 13, Taylor Deyoung 10, team total 59.
Assists – Ezell 59, team total 59.
Blocks – Strange 2, Sydney Carpenter 2, Ezell 1.5, Beasley 1.5, team total 9.
Digs – Breanna Crain 21, Beasley 17, Ezell 14, team total 84.