Lady Flyers' season ends with loss in state final
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SAN ANTONIO - Just three weeks ago, the St. Joseph volleyball team was involved in a serious accident that saw their bus roll over with the team inside of it.
Nobody was seriously injured in the crash, but there was an emotional impact on the team that brought them even closer together and made them stronger as a team.
The Lady Flyers took that team unity all the way to the TAPPS Class 4A state championship game for the first time in school history Saturday morning where they squared off against Arlington Grace Prep.
Leading 20-17 in the fourth game, Grace Prep scored five unanswered points to win the state title, 25-16, 25-12, 23-25, 25-17, denying the Lady Flyers the perfect ending to a season that had featured many ups and downs.
"We came out a little nervous. It's a state title game, though and you're going to be a little nervous," said senior Carly Boles. "We tried to use those nerves to our advantage, but those first two games didn't come out in our favor.
"A lot of it was mental. We are definitely a strong team," said St. Joseph coach Allyson Griffin. "They were very good. It just took us awhile, mentally, to show up. In the end it took a little too long."
The Lady Lions (39-6) won the first two games at the Blossom Athletic Center. St. Joseph (34-6) was able to keep pace with Grace Prep in the first game, trailing by just one point. However, Grace Prep finished the first game on an 11-3 run.
"They had two very strong hitters, and we tried to contain them," Griffin said. "Our defense wasn't as strong as it was yesterday."
Game 2 was dominated by the Lady Lions, who took a 14-4 lead that was built off of several St. Joseph errors. The second game would come to an end when Boles hit the ball out of bounds.
"Just thinking about how far we've come and what we've been through, we weren't going to give it up in three games," Boles said. "We were going to fight back."
Needing a win in Game 3 to keep their season, and championship, hopes alive, the Lady Flyers struggled to take the lead despite being behind by just a few points. They would take their first lead since the first point of game two when a block attempt by Grace Prep was tipped out of bounds.
With a slim 20-19 lead, the Lady Flyers and Lions traded points until St. Joseph pulled ahead for a 25-23 game three win.
"It was a huge battle," Ybarbo said. "I just wish we would've fought a little more."
Grace Prep pulled away to start the fourth game with a 5-2 lead, but St. Joseph never gave up and fought back to tie the game at 12-12. One point later the Lady Flyers took the lead. Unfortunately, it would be the last time they'd hold the lead.
"We really wanted to win it, but everything happens for a reason," senior Analise Ybarbo said. "I'm just glad we made it this far and with a team I love. I couldn't happier."
Kurtz led the Lady Flyers six kills and six digs. Natalie Bales also had six digs.
Four members of the St. Joseph squad were named to the all-tournament team. They are: Boles, Kurtz, Bales and Peyton Cuellar.