BEAUMONT — Digging up everything in sight, the Liberty Lady Panthers ended a outstanding year by Orangefield as the Lady Panthers toppled the Lady Bobcats 25-20, 25-22, 25-18 in the Class 3A Region III quarterfinals at Beaumont Ozen High School Tuesday night.
The Lady Panthers (29-9) had everything working while the Lady Bobcats (27-7) District 21-3A champions, struggled to get the potent offense that they showed all season long on track.
Orangefield, despite the loss, had a tremendous season under the guidance of first-year coach Meagan Adams.
Eleven seniors paved the way for the first district volleyball title in the school’s history.
“It’s so emotional right now,” said Adams. “Some may say I took the girls under my wings but it really was just the opposite, they took me under theirs. Me, being a first-year coach for the first time anywhere, they welcomed me with open arms. The whole Orangefield community has been tremendous. Our crowd was phenomenal tonight, I’m just sorry that we couldn’t quite get it done.”
The Lady Bobcats got a lot done this year, zipping through 21-3A play with a perfect 12-0 record and winning 36 of 37 games in the process.
Tuesday night, however, was not their night.
“We really pressed from the start and made mistakes that we certainly don’t normally make,” said Adams. “Offensively, we didn’t show the discipline that we’ve shown all year. We were off on some of our sets, we missed some serves and we stepped over the line on several occasions. That just wasn’t Lady Bobcat-like.”
The Lady Bobcats swept the Lady Panthers earlier in the season to win the small school division of the YMBL Tournament.
“Give Liberty credit, they came out and were aggressive from the start and all the way through the match,” said Adams. “I thought they got it done on defense too. They were flying all over the place.”
Liberty senior Allison Meche was a thorn in the Lady Bobcats’ side throughout the match as she finished with 13 kills. Kaitlyn Slack had 10 kills for the Lady Panthers while Madison Cook contributed eight.
Jennifer McManus once again led the Lady Bobcat offense, finishing with a team-high 11 kills. Morgan Moss poured out nine kills for Orangefield while Taylor Benoit had five and Rylie Granger had four.
Andee Geter served up nine points to lead the Lady Panthers. Emily Scott had seven points, two aces and added three kills. Slack and Mariah Ozan each had six points and an ace. Meche contributed five points and an ace and Cook added four points and an ace.
Bobcat libero Kacey LeBlanc wrapped up an excellent run as she played great defense and had a team-high 11 points and three aces. Granger had six points. McManus contributed five points and an ace while Megan Burton added three points.
Liberty snared an early 11-4 lead in Game One behind the hitting of Meche. The Lady Bobcats, behind big kills from the likes of McManus and Moss, whittled away at the lead and eventually cut the margin to 22-20. However, Slack and Cook teamed up for three big kills to finish it up for the Lady Panthers.
The Lady Bobcats surged out to a 6-3 lead in Game Two but Liberty tallied six of the next seven points to go up 11-7.
Liberty looked comfortable with a 23-18 lead but the Lady Bobcats got to within 24-22 until a Meche swat allowed the Lady Panthers to take the game.
Liberty stormed out of the gate in Game Three, building up a 14-5 cushion.
The Lady Bobcats, however, didn’t go away as they rallied all the way back to trim the margin to 19-17. Liberty wrapped it up though as Meche, Slack and Cook all had big kills to put the match away for the Lady Panthers.
Liberty will now move on to face either West or Waco La Vega in the 3A Region III Tournament at 8 p.m. Friday at Bryan High School.