LITTLE ELM — The Sherman Lady Cats had a chance to let their season end quickly Monday night.
Down two sets and facing match point, Sherman not only extended the match once, but twice before falling to Saginaw Boswell in a Class 5A Region I bi-district contest at Little Elm.
“I’m really proud of them,” Sherman head coach Ashley Aleman said of her players following Boswell’s 25-20, 25-20, 26-28, 21-25, 15-9 victory. “There was a point in that third set where I felt we were almost about to let up. When I called that time out, I told them they had to flip that switch right back on and keep fighting.
“That’s what they did. They came out and won two sets. It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t win that last set.”
Rylie Bernard led Sherman (29-11) with 16 kills with Kylie Jackman getting 15 and Madi Gladen 10. Bernard said the team’s six seniors leave behind a program that is on the way up.
“This year, our program became really strong,” she said. “We all bonded really well this year, and I think we’re going to leave behind a really good, strong bond. That’s the key to volleyball. You have to have a strong bond on that court and know who’s going to get the next ball.
“That’s going to be a big thing for them getting into the playoffs next year, the bond that they have that we’re leaving behind.”
While the program loses six seniors, the Lady Cats also return six regulars from this season.
“We have a solid program going,” Aleman said. “I have no doubt that next year we’re going to do the same thing if not more. I told my younger ones that next year’s goal is two rounds in the playoffs.
“These girls this year accomplished everything they wanted to. Tonight, if we would have won, it would have been a major bonus on top of this season. And we almost had it.”
Which only makes the Lady Cats that much more eager for next year to arrive.
“It gives these girls a taste of what it’s like,” Aleman said. “There’s a bigger picture than just playing district games. Now that they’ve got a taste of it, hopefully, they’ll want more.”
Sarah Graham, who had two kills, and Jackman each had five blocks to lead the Lady Cats, while Bernard added two blocks.
Dallas Aleman finished with 48 assists, 10 digs and two aces. Cameron Wecker led Sherman with 20 dig, followed by Gladen with 18 and Jackman with 16.
Senior defensive specialist Averie Young said Monday’s performance showed Sherman was worthy of a playoff berth.
“Coach (Aleman) has said that Sherman definitely made a statement this year, and I think that’s absolutely true,” Young said. “We put Sherman’s name out there again. I think that was a really big thing. That’s going to put a lot of confidence in the programs coming up.
“Like Rylie said, the bond between the girls, we set a really good one this year. It was the best bond that we’ve had. It was definitely a part of the great team that we had and I think that if they carry that on throughout the rest of the years, it’s not only going to help the team move on but I think it’s going to give them a lot more confidence to go further in the playoffs in the next few years.”
Boswell (28-11) advances to the area round later this week. Pioneers head coach Rafael Lopez said the Pioneers were able to overcome the absence of their top hitter, Hannah Boyd, who is expected to return for the area match.
In Boyd’s place, Olivia Eberwein knocked down 24 kills and Emily Ahleong added 15 to lead Boswell. Kylie Courtney had 50 assists and Brigan Griffin had 22 digs.
The match had 33 ties and 14 lead changes. The first two sets followed similar scripts as Sherman protected a slim lead through the early portion before Boswell gained just a bit of separation at the end. The Pioneers closed each set with a 12-5 run.
In the third set, Boswell rallies from an 18-13 deficit to tie it at 20. Bernard’s kill on Boswell’s second match point tied it at 25 and allowed Sherman to extend the match.
Momentum shifted to the Lady Cats in the fourth set as Sherman led most of the way. Boswell rallied from 16-8 to take a 17-16 lead before Sherman scored the next five points to regain control.
The fifth set was tied as late as 7-7 before Eberwein took over with five kills in the next six points to give Boswell a 12-8 lead.