TERRELL — Two Tyler schools entered the Terrell ISD Gymnasium Tuesday for a bi-district volleyball playoff doubleheader.
Both left on the wrong side of the final score, with Robert E. Lee dropping the opener 3-2 to Garland Naaman Forest while John Tyler lost 3-0 against Mansfield Legacy.
The two matches were the final for 16 seniors (nine from Lee and seven from JT) and brought on “what could’ve been” feelings from both head coaches.
The Lady Raiders (30-13) pulled off a comeback to win game one of their 5A Region II bi-district match with Garland Namman Forest and nearly duplicated that feat in the fifth game of their match. Lee trailed 11-3 in the decisive fifth game before reeling off eight of the next nine points to take a 12-11 lead. Lee fought off one match point at 14-13, but couldn’t do it again, to succumb 16-14.
“We just made more mistakes; I think we were pretty evenly matched as far as ability,” said REL coach Melissa Lee. “They never gave up even when we were down (by eight points). You can’t take anything away from them; they kept fighting.”
Mallory Kuechle led the Lady Raiders with 18 kills while fellow senior Alexis Crowder posted a season-best 11 kills. Legacy was led by Paxton Wade, who finished with 17 kills.
John Tyler (25-15) started sluggishly in their first two games, dropping both before rallying from 21-8 down in game three to pull within six points, 21-15. Mansfield Legacy would not allow the Lady Lions to complete the comeback, winning three of the next four to complete a 25-16 victory for a sweep.
Head coach Stephanie March-Smith said her players finally began to show what they can do in game three, but by then it was too late.
“We didn’t come to play; and that (showed),” March-Smith said. “Playoffs are a different season in itself, so you have to be prepared to come in and leave everything out there. We weren’t ready to come in the playoffs focused. It’s a learning experience for (some of) these young kids and hopefully they learned something from this.”
The Lady Lions were led offensively in the loss by Erica Franklin (five kills) and Quaneshia Johnson (11 assists).
Naaman Forest (29-11) now meets either Dallas Skyline or McKinney Boyd in the 5A area round while Legacy will face defending state champion Lucas Lovejoy in its 4A area match.
Naaman Forest 3, Lee 2
The Lady Raiders won the opening game against Naaman Forest when the two met earlier this season, but looked in danger of starting this rematch in a hole. The Ranger Ladies went in front 17-12 when a missed serve gave REL the ball back and Taylor Winchester went back to serve.
REL won an impressive 12 straight, with Kuechle tallying seven kills in the run. Rebekah Bowden had a solo block, Kenshai Moseley had two kills and Winchester served an ace.
It all added up to a crazy comeback and REL winning the first game, 25-18.
Naaman Forest responded with wins in games two and three, 25-23 and 25-22. Lee answered with a win in game four, thanks to a kill from Crowder, to set up a fifth and an all-important fifth game.
The Ranger Ladies won 11 of 14 points to build a seemingly insurmountable 11-3 lead. Wade had two kills and two aces in the run for Naaman Forest.
A kill by Kuechle got REL on the board, 11-4, but a block from Micayla Buckner kept Naaman Forest in control, 12-4.
This time the comeback was courtesy of Bowden’s serves. Naaman Forest helped out with hitting errors. When Naaman Forest’s McKenna Yablon finally broke the momentum with a kill, Lee had cut its deficit to 13-11. A kill from Crowder made it 13-12, with another Naaman Forest hitting error tying the match up at 13-13.
The Lady Raiders tied it up again at 14-14 by staving off a match point, but were finally out of comebacks two points later.
“You can’t take anything away from our (players),” Lee said. “I hate that it ended this way for those seniors, but they did all they could do.”
Mansfield Legacy 3, John Tyler 0
John Tyler played from behind the moment its match began against Mansfield Legacy. The Lady Broncos and Lady Lions split their first four points, but Legacy used JT errors to go in front 5-3 and followed that with a six-point run to make it 11-3. A kill from Franklin made it 12-5, with JT grabbing spare points throughout the first game on a block by Jesslan Carroll and kill by Kashanti Flowers.
Samantha Eaton finished things off for Legacy with a kill and 25-10 win.
Legacy picked up where it left off in game two, winning 10 of the first 13 points and going on from there to win, 25-11.
In the third game, Legacy ran out to a 5-0 lead and kept its foot on the gas to make it 15-4.
JT then began to find its rhythm with Flowers, Franklin and Breanna Choice all registering kills to help the Lady Lions pull to within 21-15. But Legacy did not falter, closing out the third game 25-16 to win the match.
Garland Naaman Forest 3, Robert E. Lee 2
Robert E. Lee 25 23 22 25 14
Naaman Forest 18 25 25 22 16
KILLS LEADERS — REL: Mallory Kuechle 18; Alexis Crowder, 11
ASSISTS LEADERS — REL: Melissa Menard 21; Chelsea Geter 8 assists
DIGS LEADERS — REL: Taylor Winchester 19; Kuechle 16.
RECORDS — Lee (30-13); Naaman Forest (29-11).
NEXT UP — Lee season complete; Naaman Forest vs. Dallas Skyline or McKinney Boyd in area round at time and place TBA.
Mansfield Legacy 3, John Tyler 0
John Tyler 10 11 16
Mansfield Legacy 25 25 25
KILLS LEADERS — JT: Erica Franklin, 5
ASSISTS LEADERS — JT: Quaneshia Franklin 11
RECORDS — John Tyler 25-15; Mansfield Legacy 23-22.
NEXT UP — John Tyler season complete; Mansfield Legacy vs. Lucas Loveyjoy in area round at time and place TBA.