The Quitman Lady Bulldog volleyball season came to an end Saturday afternoon at Princeton High School Gym when they fell to the state’s fourth-ranked Callisburg Lady Wildcats in the area round in straight sets 25-11, 25-17, 25-13. It was a valiant effort from Coach Ashlee Lingo’s young and talented Lady Bulldogs, but in the end, it was the experienced defending state runner-up Lady Wildcats who held the winning hand.
After romping past Dallas Madison 25-7, 25-5, 25-3 in bi-district the Lady Bulldogs ran into a determined Callisburg squad ready for action. The Lady Bulldogs had some early playoff jitters in the area game falling behind in the first set 7-0 before Jentri Jackson had a kill to get Quitman on the scoreboard.
Behind the play of outside hitter Skylar Allen, Callisburg surged to leads of 15-5 and 20-7. The high jumping Allen had three big kills in the Lady Wildcats final 10 points.
The Lady Bulldogs got off to a better start in game two when a Madalyn Spears overpowering kill tied the game at 1-1. Spears and Jackson each had assists from Shelby Hayes as the score turned to 6-4 with Callisburg leading. Behind 14-7, Quitman made a run on a kill by Julia Simpkins followed by a block for a score by Maddy Whitehurst and Simpkins and another block from Whitehurst to cut the Lady Wildcat lead to 14-12.
Down 22-16, Quitman made it 22-17 on another Spears kill shot and an assist from Hayes, but Allen once again led Callisburg to close game two out with the 25-17 score.
Game three saw great hustle all over both ends of the court with ladies diving for balls and chasing down other shots. After Coach Lingo call a time-out with Callisburg ahead 11-7, the Lady Bulldogs came back to make it an 11-9 deficit. From that point on, Callisburg took over going on a 13-4 run giving them the final 25-13 tally.
Lingo was proud of her team. “Callisburg is an amazing team that is coming off back to back state appearances. There is a good chance they will be back again this year,” Lingo said. “We gave them all we had. I felt the girls never gave up, but unfortunately it just wasn’t our night Saturday.”
In the bi-district match at Terrell High School Oct. 29, the Lady Bulldogs never trailed. In the final set in the 25-3 win Quitman stormed to a 16-0 lead before losing a point on a shot that was just outside the line. Strong net play from Ava Burroughs, Spears and Whitehurst led the way for Quitman in the match. Back line digs from Emma VanBecelaere and Abby Dobbs set up assists from Hayes throughout each set in the match. The Lady Trojans were outmatched from the beginning as Quitman dominated play the entire contest.
Against Madison Jackson had nine digs, five kills and eight aces; Spears had six digs, six kills and eight aces; Hayes had five digs, one kill, one ace and 22 assists; Dobbs six digs, one kill, three aces; Whitehurst two digs, 11 kills; VanBecelaere three digs; Burroughs four kills, one ace, three blocks; Simpkins two digs, two kills; Lindsey Hornaday three digs; and Lucy Brannon two digs.
Team stats for the Callisburg match were Jackson with nine kills, four digs, Simpkins three kills, one block; Spears 13 digs, five kills; Brannon nine digs, one kill; Hayes three digs, one kill, 20 assists; Whitehurst four digs, one kill, one block; Burroughs two kills; Dobbs three digs, one kill; and VanBecelaere two digs.
Quitman ends the year with a fine 25-13 season record and returns a nucleus of experienced and talented young ladies for next season. They are losing three seniors including dominating outside hitter Spears and the constant hustle play from Dobbs and VanBecelaere on the back line.
Returning next year will be juniors Jackson, Whitehurst, Simpkins, Burroughs and Hayes for their senior season, and sophomores Lindsey Hornaday and Lucy Brannon to challenge Edgewood for the top spot. The Quitman JV and freshmen teams were also very successful and Coach Lingo will have plenty of talent to make another playoff run.