Just when it looked like Clear Springs was cruising to a trip to the Class 6A, Region III final four, Richmond George Ranch had other ideas, as the Lady Longhorns came all the way back from an 0-2 match deficit to stun the Chargers by the scores of 20-25, 22-25, 25-20, 25-22, 15-9 on Tuesday at the University of Houston Alumni Center.
“We fought for every point, we didn’t give up, and we played aggressive, and that’s all I can really ask for at the end of the day,” Clear Springs head coach Shannon McClellen said.
Clear Springs scored a comfortable win in the second set, which it led by as much as 16-9, but may have entered the third frame feeling a little too comfortable about its prospects in the match. The Chargers never led in the third set, and with the score knotted at 7-7, a 4-0 run sparked by a kill from Kennedy Muckelroy helped George Ranch seize control.
“Maybe we were a little too relaxed after going into the third set after being up two to nothing,” McClellen said. “And we made some errors that we typically don’t make, and you can’t make those kinds of errors against teams as good as George Ranch.”
The Chargers appeared to be back on track in the fourth set when they raced out to a quick 6-1 lead. Clear Springs continued to hold that five-point lead at 12-7, but the Lady Longhorns stampeded their way back with six unanswered points fueled by two aces from Mady Rathmell and two kills by Kennedy Prince.
Clear Springs regained the lead with kills from Shyia Richardson and Alana Dawson, but a 6-0 run by George Ranch led by three kills from Prince and helped by two Charger errors left Clear Springs reeling.
The fifth set was all George Ranch, as the Lady Longhorns, fired up and with an electric fan section behind them, shot out to a 4-0 lead and never trailed after that. Trailing 6-1, the Chargers got to within one point on kills from Richardson, Erin Rogers and Kenedee Poye and a George Ranch error, but the Lady Longhorns responded with three straight points to begin to put the match out of reach.
Leaders for the Chargers in the heartbreaker of a loss were Richardson (20 kills), Poye (19 kills, three blocks), Massiel Coronado (32 assists), Tori Gehret (13 digs), Hannah Crawford (11 digs) and Lizzie Canada (three blocks).
Clear Springs loses five seniors — Coronado, Crawford, Poye, Tatum Estrada and Mallorie Smith — from the program’s first-ever district championship team.
“I’m proud of what they accomplished, I’m proud of our season,” McClellen said. “We broke some school records this year, which is awesome. And really, at the end of the day, volleyball doesn’t define you. It doesn’t define who they are — their character, their integrity, their hard work ethic. They have all of those things, and that’s what makes me proud of them.”