CELINA — Stormi Snider came to Ponder last season determined to turn the program into an annual contender in the playoffs.
In 2016, the Lady Lions advanced all the way to the Class 3A Region II final. But Snider lost a talented senior class and entered this season with a young roster.
Even so, Ponder hoped to replicate the playoff success it had last year. But after finishing third in District 9-3A, the Lady Lions fell to Farmersville in a 3A bi-district playoff match 29-27, 21-25, 25-20, 25-21 Tuesday night.
"I expect playoffs," Snider said. "Before, playoffs weren't really expected at Ponder. We've got to make sure that our mentality is that we're going to make playoffs and be strong when we get there. It's not enough to just make it."
The Lady Lions found themselves playing from behind after losing an intense first set, as Farmersville scored three straight points to take a one-set lead. There were nine ties in the opener before the Lady Farmers pulled away.
Ponder responded with a 25-21 win in the second set to draw even, using a late four-point run to swing the momentum back in its favor.
The Ponder offense got into a rhythm behind the play of junior Meagan Cope (15 kills) and freshman Averee Tipton, who tallied 48 assists. Senior Emily Hendrix had nine kills, senior Jordan Doughty added eight and sophomore Sterling Wilkinson finished with 11. Senior Bailey Frenette had a team-high 29 digs.
"All three of our seniors had really good games," Snider said. "That's all I can ask of them. If they were going to go out, they played a good game to go out on. They shouldn't hang their head on anything."
After drawing even at 1-1, the Lady Lions struggled to build on that momentum in the third and fourth sets. Farmersville relied heavily on senior Katy Ravsten and freshman Reese Fetty, who combined to carry the Lady Farmers to the win.
Ponder finishes the season 26-16 while Farmersville (36-6) advances to play the winner between Sunnyvale and Edgewood in the area round later this week.
The Lady Lions lose just three players from this team as they head into the offseason and prepare for next year.
"We're excited because we are young and we'll have so many solid seniors next year," Snider said. "I know we'll definitely miss the seniors we have now, but the growth is promising heading into next year."