FLOWER MOUND — Guyer has been in the playoffs enough times over the years that most people probably forgot about last year's blip. A 3-11 blip, to be exact.
That was Guyer's district record last year, a mark everyone except the Lady Wildcats likely let go of by that next offseason. With a new coach and renewed focus, this year's team set out to reclaim its swagger, and not even the two-time defending Class 6A champions were going to faze them.
Guyer won 31 matches this season and backed Hebron into a corner several times in Monday's Class 6A playoff opener before the champs eked out a 25-19, 25-27, 25-22, 25-19 win at Flower Mound Marcus. Hebron (35-7) extended its win streak to 18 matches, and its hopes for a third-straight state title are very much alive.
But it didn't come without a fight from Guyer (31-12). The Lady Wildcats trailed by only one point late in the fourth while trying to force a decisive fifth set, but the Lady Hawks scored eight of the next 11 points to seal the win. Adanna Rollins, a University of Minnesota commit, finished with a match high 23 kills. Emma Clothier, who is pledged to Florida State, chipped in 13 while Lauren Merrill and Nicole Drewnick added 11 and 10 kills, respectively.
"We were 3-11 last year and tied for seventh place in district, and here we are playing the back-to-back champs — and we were fighting," Guyer coach Heather Van Noy said. "Our defensive effort was incredible. I thought we could have done better on offense, but it's not that our offense wasn't firing. [Hebron] was just picking it all up.
"I couldn't be more proud of these girls."
Guyer finished with 15 blocks and 72 digs. Freshman Jordyn Williams and Arkansas State commit Rachel Tullos finished with 12 kills apiece. Tullos added nine blocks.
Trailing 1-0 in the match and 23-22 in the second set, Guyer got a key kill from Texas State commit Mallory Pittman to spark a 3-1 run. Merrill kept the set alive with a kill of her own, but Hailey Schneider and Tullos knocked down back-to-back kills to even the match.
Hebron led by as many as six points in the third but had its lead trimmed to two before it could net a 2-1 match lead. Both teams clamored for momentum in the fourth set as Guyer built a 14-11 lead on a kill from Williams. That's when Hebron took over with a quick 5-0 run.
Hebron didn't trail the rest of the way.
"Everything we worked hard this season to improve on, we thrived on tonight," Van Noy said. "I've got so many young kids coming back that I really couldn't ask for a better situation. The future really does look bright for Guyer volleyball."
STEVE GAMEL can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @NewspaperSteve.