TROPHY CLUB — For No. 10 Argyle, its vast experience in the playoffs helped it survive and advance to the region tournament for the fifth time in six years.
Argyle, playing against its former coach of 18 seasons, Clark Oberle, looked past the emotions of the Class 4A Region II quarterfinal and ended Decatur's season in four sets 25-17, 19-25, 25-20, 25-16 at Trophy Club Nelson on Tuesday night.
The Lady Eagles' season continues with a matchup in the regional semifinals against Texarkana Pleasant Grove, which swept Rusk on Tuesday, at 6 p.m. Friday at Mesquite Poteet.
"We're excited to get back to the region tournament because that's something that this program has done for so long," Argyle coach Megan DeGroot said. "[Oberle] was on the minds of the girls, especially the seniors, but it wasn't so much of a point to come out and beat Oberle — it was more about beating Decatur because we're representing Argyle."
One of only two seniors on this year's squad, outside hitter Sophie Betzhold said the win over Decatur tastes a little sweeter after beating her former coach.
"Honestly, it's so relieving that we can finally beat Coach O," Betzhold said. "After the second time we played them [in district] and lost, we were all down as a team. Winning this game is going to carry over into regionals."
Betzhold was second on the team in kills (13) behind Danielle Davis (15). Davis added 21 digs, while Paxton McGlinch notched 10 kills, 25 digs and three blocks. Alyssa Wallace recorded 44 digs and five aces, while setter Kassidy Reeves tallied 45 assists.
In the first set, the teams were neck-and-neck, trading blows and tying the set eight times before Argyle got some late momentum. Tied at 14, Argyle ripped off an 8-1 run for a 22-15 lead it would ride to a win.
Decatur held a two-point lead through most of the second set before it recorded a 4-0 run to even the match at a set apiece.
The third set is where Argyle made the plays when it needed to. The Lady Eagles took a 1-0 lead but didn't lead again until 21-20. Decatur gave up another point, then Oberle called timeout. Decatur froze on defense, and Argyle recorded a 5-0 run to take the set.
"As for that third set, this team doesn't know anything different than to fight," DeGroot said. "It was that grit we keep talking about — that true grit. This team fought because they don't know any better not to."
Oberle was emotional.
"You always hate [losing] when it's the seniors' last game," Oberle said with tears in his eyes. "Probably the worst part of coaching is knowing that they didn't achieve their goal like we had hoped. But we fought until the very end, and when you consider how far we came from the beginning of the season to today, it was a successful season.
"I wanted to win because it was a playoff game, but now changing gears I wish the best for Argyle moving forward."
JIMMY ISBELL can be reached at 817-781-0379 and via Twitter at @Jimmy_Isbell12.