Lady Patriots stumble to Callisburg in four sets after winning first set
At Bells High School on Tuesday night, the Prairiland Lady Patriots competed against the Callisburg Lady Wildcats in the Area Round of Class 3A postseason play. The Lady Patriots started out the match with a thrilling comeback win in the first set, but fourth-seeded Callisburg was able to recover from that point.
In the end, the Lady Patriots suffered a loss in four sets to the upstart Lady Wildcats by a final score of 25-23, 21-25, 26-28, and 17-25.
Both teams fight through an inconsistent start
After suffering the opening-set loss, Callisburg did not fold, and Prairiland head volleyball coach Emily Vanderburg foresaw the rally. With that, she made her team aware of what was coming, but the Lady Patriots were not able to consistently fend off the scrappy Lady Wildcats.
“First off, I talked to them about how Callisburg was after watching several different films on them,” Vanderburg said. “I knew the kind of team they were, but I knew they always stayed after it — it was like losses never happened. I knew they were going to be a team that would fight back. I told them they were ready and weren’t going to just lay over and die. It made it hard to score at times, but I feel like we found a weakness on the right side. We should have gotten the ball to T.J. (Folse) on the right side more. When we were aggressive, they struggled.”
Callisburg opened up an early 11-7 lead in the first set. After Prairiland used a timeout, the Lady Wildcats kept on attacking. The Lady Pats were forced to call another timeout trailing Callisburg 18-12. Then, Prairiland woke up.
Let the games begin
Senior middle Reese Parris obliterated a ball for a thunderous kill, then she and junior middle Abi Farmer recorded back to back kills to cut the deficit to 20-17. The Lady Wildcats tried to stop the bleeding with a timeout called at 20-18, but Prairiland kept pushing points. Consecutive kills from Farmer and sophomore Kyndal Yaross trimmed Callisburg’s lead to 21-20.
A few points later, Prairiland held a 24-23 lead. After Prairiland executed a solid offensive set and attack, the Lady Wildcats used tremendous hustle to get the ball back over the net. However, senior middle T.J. Folse was ready to close out the set as she thumped a massive kill to the court to end the victorious first set.
Led by Parris, Folse, and Farmer, the Lady Patriots continued to swing away on the front line throughout the match. Emphatic kills in succession by Parris and junior outside hitter Ali Sessums put Prairiland ahead at 21-20. However, Callisburg closed the set on a 5-0 scoring run to tie the action at 1-1 overall.
The rubber match and the finale
The pivotal third set was a constant seesaw between the two Area Round finalists. The teams tied or exchanged the lead more than 10 times throughout the set. Late in the third set, Parris and Farmer hammered home kills in successive points to put Prairiland ahead 23-22. Coming out of a timeout, Callisburg was able to record two points for a 24-23 lead, but Parris registered a tip and a block to give the Lady Pats the lead back at 25-24. The Lady Wildcats wrestled back a one-point lead at 26-25, but Farmer put down another kill to tie the score at 26-all. However, Callisburg claimed the third set after scoring the next two points.
The Lady Pats trailed the entire fourth set and were down 9-3 early, but Prairiland continued to fight back. Later in the set, Farmer earned two points for her team on a tip and a kill to cut the deficit to 16-12. However, the four-point margin was as close as Prairiland got the entire way as Callisburg emerged victorious with a strong 9-5 push late in the set.
Parris was dominant on the front line with 18 kills, 4 digs, and 3 blocks. Folse impressed with 15 kills, 5 digs, and 2 blocks. Farmer poured in 13 kills and 1 block, while Sessums added 3 kills and 20 digs. Yaross performed well with 5 kills and 12 digs, while sophomore setter Chloe Raley had 2 kills, 30 assists, and 16 digs. Sophomore setter Hanna Cope chipped in with 21 assists and 9 digs. Lady Pats libero Lanna Riney had 13 digs.
Seniors’ swan song
With the loss, Parris, Folse, and Erika Sims wore their high school volleyball jerseys for the last time. Vanderburg is grateful for the hard work each of her three seniors put in over the years and how well they each excelled in their respective roles on and off the court.
“I’m very appreciative of the seniors no matter what each senior’s role was,” Vanderburg said. “Each senior had their roles and they embraced them. We couldn’t have had the season we had if it wasn’t for them. They were big contributors and did a pretty good job of being mentors to the younger kids. I’m grateful for the four years they each put in.”
Callisburg moves on to compete against the Boyd Yellowjackets, champions of their district, in the regional quarterfinals. Prairiland’s season ended with an overall record of 21-5. For more sports coverage, click here.
Photograph taken by Bill Higgins