|Sulphur Springs volleyball clinches playoff berth|
|Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor|
Oct. 19, 2005 - PARIS - Sulphur Springs clinched a berth in the volleyball playoffs Tuesday night, but it wasn't exactly the way the Lady Cats envisioned it.
The Lady Cats lost to North Lamar in four games to fall back into a second-place tie with the Pantherettes, but both teams wrapped up postseason berths by virtue of previously winless Mount Pleasant upsetting fourth-place Texas High.
Sulphur Springs is now 6-3 in District 12-4A, 21-12 overall after losing by scores of 26-24, 24-26, 25-19, 25-18 to the Pantherettes (6-3, 19-13). Greenville (8-1, 21-10) wrapped up the 12-4A championship by beating Paris.
The Lady Cats handed Greenville its only loss of the district season two weeks ago, but Sulphur Springs has lost three of the four matches since then and must travel to Greenville on Friday for the regular season finale. Game time is 5 p.m.
Sulphur Springs can still finish either second or third in district, depending on how Friday's games go between SSHS-Greenville and North Lamar-Texas High.
SSHS head coach John McCullough said he wants to see the Lady Cats play at the end of games with the same urgency they have at the beginning.
"Apparently, we're in the playoffs, but as a coach, you don't want to back into anything," said SSHS head coach John McCullough. "What concerns me is that we're just not executing and making plays late in the game. Early on, we step up and play, but late in the game we're not. That concerns me because we're not stepping our game up and executing like we do early in games.
"We're playing not to make a mistake instead of trying to win. We're not finishing hits like we do early in games."
North Lamar got a 15-kill, five-block effort from Logan Anglin and nine kills apiece from Emily Fouse and Robyn Bush to finish off the Lady Cats.
Sulphur Springs received 12 kills from senior Tara Gibby, eight kills from junior Kristen McDonald and eight kills and 14 assists from senior Hailey Watson. But, the Lady Cats had just one kill over the final 19 points in the deciding Game 4.
In that game, Sulphur Springs fell behind, 5-1, but came back to take a 10-6 lead behind a back row kill from Gibby and six straight service points from junior Kayla Morgan, who had 11 points, six blocks and four kills. The game stayed close as North Lamar took an 18-15 advantage on a kill from Ali Stone. But, Sulphur Springs senior Laura Ream dug a ball out of the net to win a point for the Lady Cats.
The Pantherettes, though won six of the next eight points, including four kills, to win the match.
North Lamar was able to pull out Game 1, as well, despite 13 kills from Sulphur Springs and a couple of diving digs from junior Brittany Moore and seniors Marlee Peugh and Colbie Cross. Moore served five straight points late in the game to get SSHS to take a 20-18 lead, but a kill by Fouse stopped the run.
Moore finished with a team-high 12 points to go with three kills.
In Game 2, the Lady Cats took a 17-10 lead behind four kills from Watson in the early going. But, North Lamar came back to tie the game at 23-23. Morgan then had a kill off an assist from Ream, who recorded 15 in the match. Ream also had a diving back-row save that made it across the net for a point to put SSHS up, 25-24.
The Lady Cats got quickly behind in Game 3, though they tied the game at 10-10 on a kill by Gibby. North Lamar then went on a 5-1 run to take command of the game. SSHS had just one kill over the final 17 points.
"You can't free ball against a team like North Lamar because you're going to lose every time," McCullough said.
The Lady Cats did a much better job getting their serves in as they had just five bad serves. They also had just five aces. Ream and Peugh scored eight service points apiece.
"The good thing tonight is that we did a great job of serving. Everybody got their serves in," McCullough said. "We had a couple of good digs, and at times we passed well. Other times, we would have three of four bad passes in a row and that gives them a run, then we set up free balls and things like that, and they take advantage of that.
"When you play good teams, you've got to be able to execute and get the job done."