DENTON — The Sherman Lady Cats had one last chance to punch their ticket for the playoffs without having to wade through a convoluted district tiebreaker process.
They took the easy way Tuesday, sweeping Denton High 25-18, 25-23, 25-16 to clinch a third-place finish in District 5-5A on the final night of the regular season.
Sherman (29-10, 6-6) qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2005.
“It feels so good,” Sherman head coach Ashley Aleman said. “Me and the girls are just so excited. The energy is just radiating off of these girls. They’re so proud of themselves. I’m so proud of them. Their community’s proud of them.
“We put Sherman back on the board and we’re going to the playoffs. It’s been since 2005, so we’re real excited.”
The Lady Cats will play Saginaw Boswell, which shared the District 6-6A title with Aledo, next week in the bi-district round. Aledo and Boswell held a coin toss to determine seeding. Time, date and location of the bi-district match are to be determined.
The Lady Cats faced the prospect of either playing Denton again this weekend in a district seeding game or even being part of a three-way tie for the final two postseason berths out of 5-5A. Tuesday’s victory eliminated the need for that as far as Sherman was concerned, but Denton (10-24, 4-8) dropped into a three-way tie for fourth place with Denton Braswell and Denison. Those teams will play off for the final bi-district spot later this week.
“I’m going to try to get a warm-up game for Friday and then either Monday or Tuesday, we’ll play Boswell,” Aleman said.
Sophomore Kylie Jackman led the Lady Cats with 15 kills with Rylie Bernard adding eight and Madi Gladen recording seven.
“I’m really excited and proud of our team because we worked really hard to make it to this point,” Jackman said. “We practiced hard every day. I’m just proud of my team that we’ve been able to finish it. I’m glad all of our hard work paid off.”
The Lady Cats had seven total blocks with Dallas Aleman getting two and Gladen, Sarah Graham and Alexis Jackman each getting 1½. Dallas Aleman also had 37 assists and 18 digs, while Cameron Wecker led the team with 20 digs. Gladen had 12 digs and an ace.
Tuesday’s match marked the second road sweep of the district schedule for Sherman, which opened 5-5A play 1-4 with four road losses. A home win over Denton sparked a five-match win streak, which included a sweep at Denison and got the Lady Cats back in the playoff picture.
“It just came to the point where it was like, ‘it’s your choice,’” Ashley Aleman said. “‘You can pick this road, or you can pick this road.’
“We started off the way we didn’t want to start. We were going down the path we didn’t want to go down. It just clicked. We finally got to play at home and got (turned around) and that just set the momentum to go. They got it back together.
Kylie Jackman said playing better away from Bearcat Gymnasium is important heading into the playoffs.
“Since all of our games are going to be away, it’s good that we can bring that energy to the court and be able run plays successfully,” she said.
Sherman was in control most of the match, but had to fend off repeated challenges by Denton.
In the first set, Sherman jumped out to a 4-0 lead but the Broncos rallied to tie it twice. The Lady Cats regained control with a 6-0 run that included kills by Kylie Jackman, Bernard and Graham and maintained at least a four-point lead the rest of the way.
Denton led most of the second set after taking a 4-0 lead, but Sherman came back to take its first lead at 11-10. The lead changed hands four more times, the last at 24-23 on a kill by Kylie Jackman after Denton led 22-19.
The Lady Cats clinched the match and a playoff spot quickly in the third set, leading by as much as eight before Kylie Jackman put down the final kill on match point.