And all of a sudden, just like that, it was over.
The Quitman Lady Bulldogs played diligently, but could not overcome a fine defensive effort from Gunter, falling 3-0 to the Lady Tigers. The scores of 25-27, 24-26, 25-27 indicate just how close each game was in the area round. The loss ended the Lady Bulldogs season with a stellar 33-8 record.
“Gunter was a really good team and it just wasn’t our night. Our girls have had a lot to overcome in the past week. We have had a great year though. We had a district championship for the first time since 2013 and went undefeated,” Head Coach Ashlee Lingo said
In the first game, Quitman took an early 3-1 lead after a set by Cammie Hicks led to a Kaci Raley kill making it 3-1. The Lady Bulldogs maintained a close lead throughout most of the contest. They did lead by six at one point, 14-8 and twice, they had four point leads at three times until fought back to tie the game at 18-18. Behind the superb play of Lady Tiger senior outside hitter and middle blocker Camryn MacDonald Gunter took their first lead at 18-19. A tip by Raley for a score put Quitman in the lead and on the brink of victory at 25-24. But the Lady Tiger defense came up big holding the Lady Bulldogs scoreless while running off three consecutive scores for the 25-27 win.
Game two was another close classic with Quitman taking an early lead. The Lady Bulldogs led 9-8 and would maintain a close advantage the rest of the way, but Gunter would not go away. Gunter finally tied the game at 23-23 and again at 24-24. The Lady Tigers would score the final two points to take a 24-26 win.
The script was hauntingly the same in game three with Quitman racing ot an early 8-3 on kills by Madalyn spears and Molly Tanner. Gunter took their first lead at 13-14 and the score never was more than a two point difference either way the rest of game. Down 24-25, Raley had a kill to tie it at 25-25, but Gunter came back behind McDonald for the next two scores and won it 25-27.
It was a tough way to lose for the Lady Bulldogs, but they never gave up their desire to win and fought to the final point scored. Quitman played well, but were met by a talented Gunter squad which will move on the quarterfinals.
Quitman volleyball continues to be on solid ground. The junior varsity coached by Chris Veach and freshmen under the direction of Elizabeth Miller each had successful winning seasons. Seniors Raley, Tanner, Hicks, Rebeccda Corrior, Cassidy Corrior and Judith Delgadillo will be missed, but Coach Lingo returns a solid nucleus of talent led by juniors Madalyn Spears and Abby Dobbs and sophomores Jentri Jackson and Julia Simpkins. Emma VanBeceleare was brought up from the JV for the playoffs and had an excellent effort in the area game. Sophomore Shelby Hayes was also up from the JV for the playoffs.
Quitman will likely face some new competition next season because it is time for the UIL realignment process, but don’t worry about the Lady Bulldogs. The 2017 seniors laid the groundwork for the superb talent who follows in their footsteps. Quitman volleyball is alive and well for years to come.
“I am so proud to call myself this team’s coach! These seniors will be missed and have left a legacy with Quitman volleyball. I know the younger girls on the team had a taste of playoffs for the first time and are excited to get to work in the offseason,” Lingo added.
Statistics for the final game were: Raley 12 digs, 12 kills, one ace; Tanner nine digs, 15 kills, two aces, Hicks had six digs, two kills, one ace, 30 assists; Jackson eight digs, two kills, two aces; Simpkins three kills; and Spears 19 digs, six kills, one ace, two blocks.