On Friday night against Lewisville, Ryan led early in the third set of its District 5-5A match.
It was the first time all night they had a lead, and the first time all night the Lady Raiders didn’t start a set by dropping the first three points.
Ryan even led as both teams hit the double-digit mark in the third set. But soon enough that was gone, too, along with Ryan’s chances of breaking a district losing streak dating to 2011.
Lewisville defeated Ryan 25-15, 25-14, 25-16 at Billy Ryan Gym in a matchup of the two 5-5A teams that failed to make the playoffs in 2012.
Ryan (7-25, 0-3 district) has not won a District 5-5A match since moving up to Class 5A in 2012.
“Once again, we lost focus early on,” Ryan head coach Cindy Williams said. “We quit communicating. And we do that every game. We communicate at the beginning, and once we lose that we start making those mistakes.”
Senior Susanna Strange led Ryan with six kills and two blocks. Sophomore Halle Evans added 10 assists and six digs in the loss.
Unforced errors cost Ryan in a match that was vital for the Lady Raiders if there were any thoughts of advancing out of one of state’s toughest 5A districts and into the playoffs.
Lewisville (19-6, 2-1) held leads of 10 points or more in the first two sets. If Ryan was going to win its match, it needed to do something it hadn’t in 12 previous 5-5A games — push a match to five sets.
It looked as if the Lady Raiders were at least on the verge of pushing the match to a fourth set after they jumped ahead early and even led 11-10 in the third set. But Lewisville erased that lead and in the span of a few moments led 19-13.
Lewisville featured Portia Okafor on the front row. At 6-foot-4, Okafor was by far the tallest player on the court and had key kills and blocks throughout the match.
After a loss to Hebron on Tuesday, Williams said Ryan had good practices leading up to Friday night’s match. But in the third set, as Lewisville opened up a comfortable margin, Williams said her team had lost focus and confidence.
“I was confident we were going to come in and play hard with them,” Williams said. “I don’t know if it’s walking in and seeing people that are bigger than you on the other side of the net, which is going to be one of our things the rest of the [way in] district, but I think that’s one of those things.”
Strange also said the team was strong mentally at the beginning, but that strength dissipated as the night progressed.
“Sometimes things just don’t go your way,” Strange said. “We’re not really all there sometimes. But for sure, even pregame, we were all fired up. We were ready. We wanted to win. But sometimes, in games, we don’t push through all the way.”
BEN BABY can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @Ben_Baby.