ROCKDALE — In a season that had its share of adversity, pushing a skilled team such as La Grange to a fifth set in the playoffs was a triumph of sorts in itself.
Still, it wasn’t enough for Lake Belton as La Grange took charge of the decisive to set to come away with a 22-25, 25-19, 25-21, 20-25, 15-8 victory over the Lady Broncos in a Class 4A bi-district match at Tiger Gym.
Lake Belton finished the season with a 12-17 record. La Grange advanced to the area round with a 25-21 mark.
“The girls did a really good job of responding and reacting,” Lake Belton coach Liz Ramsey said. “That’s been our focus this year is how to react after an error or a call doesn’t go your way, to just come back and work on the next point.
The Lady Broncos overcame six service errors to win the opening set but dropped the next two going.
A pair of long streaks helped Lake Belton build a lead in the fourth set and keep it. The Lady Broncos ran off seven straight points on the service of Presley Patrick to go up 10-6. Patrick provided two aces, Emily Evatt had a pair of blocks and Reagan Furney added one to spark the seven-point streak.
La Grange fought back to tie the set on two occasions, but five straight points on Danica Bingham’s service provided more separation for the Lady Broncos, who got two kills by Landyn Johnson and another from Gabby Jones to go up 21-17. The teams traded points the rest of the way, with Lake Belton’s Hanna Ward delivering an ace and Evatt putting down a kill to force the fifth set.
“Coming back and winning that fourth set was big,” Ramsey said. “We had some unforced errors and we were able to come back.”
The Lady Broncos couldn’t get untracked in the fifth set, though. The Lady Leopards went on an 8-1 run with the help of two Camille Gonzalez aces and kills from Maddie Fritz and Tori Harold to build a 9-4 lead.
Lake Belton didn’t put together successive points the rest of way, and La Grange’s Maddie Mach provided the final point of the match with a kill from the outside.
“We were tense in that fifth set,” Ramsey said. “We have played a whole lot of five-set matches and told them to go have fun.”
Jones paced the Lady Broncos with 13 kills, and Johnson and Evatt had three blocks apiece. Patrick paced Lake Belton with four aces and added 14 assists, and Kaleice Cain finished with 20 assists. Bingham led with 15 digs followed by Ward with 14.
The match was Lake Belton’s last as a 4A school.
“We’re moving up to 5A and we’re going to have to fight,” Ramsey said. “We just have to keep finding a way.”