SAGINAW — Talk about bad timing.
After wobbling off the starting line with flat tires, something in the pits sent the Guyer volleyball express zooming toward a checkered flag and a comeback for the ages Friday night. But then, with the finish line in sight, the Lady Wildcats ran out of gas.
After dodging traffic from the NASCAR events at Texas Motor Speedway to get to the Class 4A area-round playoff at Saginaw Chisholm Trail, the Guyer girls were run down by Burleson 15-13 in the fifth and final set of a 25-11, 25-19, 22-25, 19-25, 15-13 decision.
“We weren’t going after balls. Balls were dropping between us instead of us going after them,” Guyer coach Addie Mack said after her team lost a 9-5 lead and the momentum in the final set. “We did that for three points in a row.
“You can’t win a ballgame that way.”
The Lady Wildcats looked like winners for the last hour of the two-hour match.
After Burleson easily took the first two sets by scores of 25-11, 25-19, server Emily Hill led Guyer from behind in the third set to a 25-22 win. Then the Lady Wildcats polished off Burleson 25-19 in the fourth set to force a fifth.
“We are a bit of a roller-coaster team,” Guyer setter Madison Walford said after her team ended its season with a record of 27-13. “We didn’t want this to be our last game. We gave it our all. We fought hard. We just couldn’t finish.”
A hitting violation was the first of three straight points Guyer dropped as Burleson crept within 9-8 in the final set. Led by Holly Milam and Madison Riley, each with 14 kills, Burleson tied the set at 11-11 and 12-12, the last when Abby Seamster’s well-placed slap found the floor between several Guyer players.
Ditto for the next point, an ace serve by Seamster. Seamster’s next serve was handled on the back row, but two Guyer players collided going for the pass and Burleson led 14-12. Hill scored a point to stave off one match point for Guyer, but Riley’s winning tip a moment later sent the Lady Elks (31-8) on to a regional quarterfinal meeting with Granbury.
“Our first two games, we were not working together. We were our worst enemy,” Mack said. “I’m proud of the way they worked real hard to get back in the game. Whenever they started to play ball was the normal team we’re used to seeing.”
Sydney Reyes led Guyer with 16 kills, and Sylvia Nwiba added 10 kills and four blocks. Walford had 37 assists and 19 digs, and Jasmine Montemayor chipped in 14 digs for the Lady Wildcats.
Guyer trailed 21-15 in the third set after Walford faked a set and flipped the ball over the net for a side out. Hill stepped up to serve and didn’t yield until Guyer led 23-21. Milam got Burleson within 23-22, but Reyes scored back-to-back kills to keep Guyer’s dreams alive.
In the fourth set, Guyer took the lead for good at 9-8 and scored five more points on serves by Walford to go up 14-8. Burleson battled back to get within one at 20-19, but Guyer won the last five points with four serves by Taylor Kidd and three kills by Reyes.