Whether or not Denton beat Sherman on Tuesday night, the Lady Broncos' fate was determined before the first serve of the match was punched over the net.
The Lady Broncos (10-21, 4-8 district) were trying to help their cause for their best chance at postseason play. A sweep by Sherman wasn't what Denton coach Gerry Standridge was looking for.
The Lady Broncos lost to Sherman 25-18, 25-23, 25-16 at home, and now Denton will play in a three-team mini tournament with Braswell and Denison. The winner of the tournament finishes fourth in District 5-5A and advances to the playoffs. The date and time of the tournament had yet to be determined.
"We have a bunch of young kids on this team, and we want to get them some exposure to playoffs," Standridge said. "More importantly, though, we want to finish strong for our four seniors who have given everything to this program."
Taylor Thomas led Denton in kills with nine, followed by McKenzie Sprabary (eight) and Erin Ashbaugh (five). Emma Sawko added a team-high 24 digs, and Sophie Audirsch recorded 14 assists.
Sherman gained a 4-0 lead in the first set and a 6-2 Denton run tied it at 6, but the Lady Bearcats went ahead 23-13 before closing out the set.
Denton looked to even the match, but Sherman, which trailed 22-19, tied it at 22 and 23 before recording the final two points. The teams traded points after ties at 10 and 15, and there were six lead changes after that.
"We had a three-point lead there late, but we just couldn't get a pass off," Standridge said. "It's frustrating that we couldn't even the match, but we need to be able to finish sets if we're going to put ourselves in a good spot in this tournament."
Sherman pushed the pace in the final set, building a five-point lead it would never relinquish on its way to securing a playoff spot with a third-place finish.
"Had we won the second set, the third set could've been just as competitive, but it's tough to come back after being down 0-2," Standridge said. "I saw some good things out of a young team, but we're going to have to finish."