KELLER — There is something to look forward to on the volleyball court at Denton next season, and a glimpse of it was seen Monday night in a bi-district playoff match against No. 13 Aledo at Keller Central.
The Lady Broncos were underdogs in the match but didn't give up without a fight, eventually losing in a sweep, 25-9, 25-23, 25-14.
With only three seniors on the team, Denton coach Gerry Standridge said he believes his young squad got the experience it needed to build on a tough season.
"Everything we went through this season is going to help for years to come," Standridge said. "Playing a very good Aledo team is exactly what this team needed to prepare them for next year.
"These girls had to fight to get into this spot after beating Braswell and Denison last week, and we had to fight to make it tough on Aledo tonight, and I feel we had some success in doing that."
To start, the Lady Broncos looked outmatched from the opening set, struggling to receive Aledo's serves and getting comfortable in their offense. Denton fell into a 15-7 hole that would eventually extend to 21-7 before the Lady Bearcats ripped off a 5-1 to end the first set.
Freshmen Taylor Thomas and Leah Stolfus led Denton in kills with 10 and four, respectively. Sophomore Sophie Audirsch led the Lady Broncos in assists with 12, followed by Thomas, who notched seven.
The second set is where Denton made things tough for Aledo.
Denton (12-22) led 5-2 early on before Aledo tied it at 5. There were four more ties before Aledo eventually took a 21-14 lead. The Lady Broncos stormed back to tie it at 21 before taking a 22-21 lead.
Aledo forced a few Denton errors to regain the edge at 24-22. Standridge called a timeout, but it didn't faze the Lady Bearcats, who closed out the set.
The third and decisive set was much like the first, Aledo controlling the serve and forcing Denton errors.
"Our girls fought until the very end," Standridge said. "We played two matches to get into this spot and four matches total in less than a week. It's tough on any team to do that, but our girls wanted it bad enough and got some experience they'll need come next year.
"They earned the right to reach playoffs, and I couldn't be more proud of that."
JIMMY ISBELL can be reached at 817-781-0379 and via Twitter @Jimmy_Isbell12.