Pottsboro ousted by Prairiland

Jason Della Rosa
Herald Democrat
Pottsboro's Hannah Fellinger puts up a block against Prairiland's Reese Parris in a 3A Region II bi-district match at Princeton.

PRINCETON — There was no playoff experience to back them up when the Lady Cardinals took the court. It wasn’t because they don’t have a large group of seniors to fall back on but because the program’s last postseason berth came before any of them made it to high school.

Throw in going up against a co-district champ in the first round and it was a tall task for Pottsboro to avoid a short stay in the bracket. Hopefully the return won't be as long as the last one now that the core got a taste of what it takes to get there after Prairiland defeated the Lady Cardinals, 25-14, 25-17, 25-22, in a Class 3A Region II bi-district match.

“Overall I’m just proud. They definitely fought,” Pottsboro head coach Kailey Hayward said. “There were some times this season where we had to battle to get the job done and there are lessons learned from that.”

Hannah Fellinger, Hadley Williams, Jordyn Hampton and Taylor Hayes led the way offensively for Pottsboro (17-7), which ended a five-year playoff drought with a third-place finish in District 11-3A.

The Lady Cardinals will lose Fellinger and Williams to graduation but return the rest of the roster, which included seven sophomores.

“Our two seniors, they’ve been really key for us. Those are tough holes to fill,” Hayward said. “We have a lot to build on. It’s the starting of moving in the right direction. I’m excited about what we’re able to build off of.”

Prairiland (22-4), which was a region semifinalist last season, will face Callisburg in the area round early next week.

The Lady Cardinals were in the mix of until the end of the last two stanzas but were unable to extend the match beyond Game 3.

Pottsboro’s lone lead came on the frame’s opening point but it was tied three times after, the last coming at 19 when a final charge was made.

Prairiland was siting on an 18-12 advantage before it started to slip away. Ciara Redden’s ace was the last of three straight points before the Lady Patriots notched one of their own. Then Pottsboro used a 4-0 run to tie the game and had a chance at the lead but came up short on an attack at the net.

The Lady Cardinals managed to get within two points twice in the final stages of the match but were unable to prevent the the sweep.

“We adjusted; it just wasn’t quick enough,” Hayward said. “We’d make some little pushes to close the gap but were undone by some unforced errors. That would take the wind out of our sails. We’d get right there and we couldn’t push forward.”

It took a while for Prairiland to gain an advantage in Game 2 as Pottsboro was trying to tie the match. The Lady Cardinals started with a 4-1 spurt and stayed in front until the Lady Patriots pulled even at nine. Pottsboro found itself trailing for the first time at 12-11 but Prairiland wasn’t able to open up a wide gap.

Fellinger had a block to make it 12-11 and then a hitting error by the Lady Patriots had it back to a one-point margin again at 16-15.

But the Lady Cardinals could never put together the string of points to claim the lead. They were down 19-17 before Prairiland ended on a 6-0 run with Ali Sessums at the service line to close out the stanza and go up 2-0.

Pottsboro opened the match by taking two of the first three points but Prairiland went ahead on the ensuing couple of points and never trailed again in Game 1.

The Lady Cardinals hung around for the first part of the frame and were down 7-6 on an ace from Hampton but Kyndal Vaross and T.J. Folse keyed an 8-0 run that pushed the Lady Patriots’ advantage to double digits for the first time at 17-7.

Williams and Hayes combined on a block and Aly Malone and Hayes followed with kills as part of four consecutive Pottsboro points to trim the deficit to six points but it was as close as the Lady Cardinals would get.

Bi-district

Class 3A Region II

Prairiland            3

Pottsboro            0