CORINTH - For a while on Tuesday night, it seemed like Lake Dallas could be in line to lose its first set in district play, and possibly its first match, as Ryan seemed poised to break the Lady Falcons' sweep streak and pull even in sets at 1-1.
But with a 19-15 deficit for Lake Dallas, senior middle blocker Samantha Llamas took it upon herself to be sure that did not happen.
Llamas scored seven of the Lady Falcons' last nine points in the set to beat Ryan 25-22 en route to yet another sweep for Lake Dallas, which won 25-23, 25-22, 25-16.
Lake Dallas (25-14, 10-0), which clinched the District 4-4A title last week with a win over Denton, got 11 kills and five blocks from Llamas to put itself two wins away from a perfect district record and six straight sets away from the rare feat of sweeping all of its district opponents.
"She's a beast," said Lake Dallas head coach Heather Van Noy. "She definitely wanted to win. She's been playing well, but she was exceptional tonight.
"She always has it, and she's always there for us on key points. Sometimes, though, we'll lose a rally and move her to the back row, so that's frustrating. We have to protect the serve when she's front-row so we can keep her on the front row as much as possible."
In the third set, Llamas didn't even take the floor until Lake Dallas led 15-13, but then her team outscored Ryan (15-16, 6-5) 10-3 after she returned.
"It's our senior year," Llamas said of her and her seven senior teammates who celebrated senior night on Tuesday. "And we got really excited about this and got ourselves into a hole in the second set. I knew I had to go out there and pick everybody up. We're all a team, and I knew we'd be sad if we lost that set. That was something I was not going to let happen on our senior night."
During the key stretch in the second, Llamas turned a 19-15 Lake Dallas deficit into a 25-22 set victory with six kills and a block and a great hustle play from Olivia Chapman and Sarah Street.
"I didn't really think about how many kills I had or anything. I was just thinking, 'We're one point closer to catching up. We need to get to 25. We need to win this set,'" Llamas said. "I kept thinking I didn't want to mess up, and I wanted to do my part to get it done because we weren't going to lose that set."
Chapman finished the night with 24 assists, and Street had four blocks to go with Whitley Chambers' four blocks. Chambers added six kills and three aces.
Ryan head coach Cindy Williams was happy with her team's play in the first two sets, both of which Ryan led late before the Lady Falcons rallied to keep their streak alive.
"A lot of it is the inexperience of the kids I have," she said. "We've played 31 games now though, so we should be together. That's one thing we've been battling all season - pushing through those little humps. The youth and inexperience has been something that's bothered us this year in close, tough games like that.
"I would think by now we would be coming through and not making those same mistakes. A lot of them are mental mistakes."
Ryan was led by Danella Bunselmeyer's nine kills, and Hailey Foster added eight. Whitney Mills added five kills to go with six digs and 19 assists.
Van Noy said it was no surprise to see her team fight back the way it did, even though she admitted to being nervous a few times during the match with her team aiming for its perfect record.
"They're just fighters," Van Noy said. "I've said it before, but they are. It wasn't the three games that was important. They're just trying to learn to not get themselves in a hole, so when they do, they fight so hard to get out of it."
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .