CARROLLTON — Lake Dallas could not have battled any harder Monday night in their Class 5A, Region II bi-district playoff match against the Frisco Liberty.
In the end, the linescore will show the Redhawks advancing to the second round of the state playoffs with a 25-21, 25-22, 25-20 sweep of Lake Dallas. A point here, a break there, and it very well could have been different.
"Lake Dallas was very smart on the court," Liberty coach U'iLani Womble said. "The put the ball where we weren't. We had to work hard for every ball. They were a very tough opponent."
Liberty (29-7), which finished second in District 13-5A, advances to the next round against either Sulphur Springs or Wylie East.
For the Falcons, their season ends at 21-15 after a third-place finish in District 14-5A under first-year head coach Angel Mauterer.
"We're going to hold our heads up high," she said. "We pursued every ball. We were passionate about it. I think we made them earn it."
Although the Redhawks won three straight, each set was a gritty fight to the final points.
In the first set, Lake Dallas erased an early 5-0 deficit and forced six ties before falling behind 24-18 on a block by one of Liberty's big hitters, Sophie Thompson. Lake Dallas reeled off three straight on plays by Bailey Dolezalek and Mallory Klingele and a Liberty service error before the Redhawks won by four.
In the second set, the teams were tied 12 times, the last at 18-18. Liberty twice went up by three points, but the Falcons battled back. A kill by Klingele got Lake Dallas to within 23-22, but Liberty closed out the set on big hits by Madeline Hogan and Jenna Wenaas, the two other big hitters for the Redhawks.
The third set was the only one that really got away from Lake Dallas. Tied at 10, the Falcons twice could not muster a return and Liberty open a seven-point lead. The Falcons got no closer than four the rest of the way.
"They had a lot of firepower," Mauterer said. "They had a lot of big, strong hitters and we just weren't able to stop their big hitters consistently. If we had been able to capture that second set, we might have been able to extend it out."
It was not to be, but Mauterer said she was proud of her team's effort, especially in her first year. And with nine players coming back next season, the Falcons have a strong foundation.
"Being a new coach, we learned from each other and they bought into it," said Mauterer, who had guided Carrollton Creekview to two district titles and 10 playoffs appearances before taking the Lake Dallas job. "They've worked very hard, and we definitely grew as a team."