By JASON GORDON
Hays made a valiant effort but just couldn’t overcome Cedar Park’s firepower in the Class 4A regional volleyball quarterfinals.
The Timberwolves ended the Lady Rebels’ season for the second straight year with a 25-15, 22-25, 25-19, 25-22 victory at Burger Center.
It will also be the second consecutive year the Timberwolves advance to the Class 4A Region IV Tournament, where they will play the winner of Tuesday night’s Edcouch Elsa vs. Victoria West match on Friday at San Antonio’s Paul Taylor Field House.
“Let’s face it, they are a very good team who had too many weapons,” Hays head coach Erica Walther said. “Our girls fought hard, but they outplayed us tonight.”
Cedar Park, which has never qualified for the state tournament, is two wins away from making program history. Last year the Timberwolves lost to eventual state champion Lake Travis in the regional finals.
“Getting to state has definitely been our goal all along,” said Hailey Roberts, who led Cedar Park with 18 kills. “Especially from the time we saw Lake Travis was moving to Class 5A.”
The Timberwolves (39-7) came out strong as Roberts’ six first-set kills set the tone.
Hays came back strong in the second set to tie things up as two Hannah Ramsey blocks and two Sydney Paradeaux kills got the Lady Rebs back in the match.
“I wasn’t surprised at all Hays came back,” said Cedar Park head coach Rebekah Almanza, a Hays graduate. “Every time we scouted them they played very well and we expected nothing less tonight.”
In the fourth and final set, Hays (30-16) rallied from 20-14 down after kills by Sydney Paradeaux, Dezaray Garner and Hannah Ramsey to close to within 23-22, but two straight kills by Cedar Park’s Hope Lemon ended the match.
Lemon finished with 14 kills and Emma Wallbrown added 12 kills for Cedar Park. Paradeaux had 18 kills to lead Hays.
Four varsity players who played Tuesday night will return next season for the Lady Rebs – Paradeaux, Kathryn Wristen, Melanie Harrington and Madi McCauley.
Hays will lose six seniors – Natalie Valdez, Courtney Willcox, Rachel Normand, Emily Frazell, Garner, and Ramsey.
“I think we have a chance to be very good again next season,” Walther said. “I’m grateful to the players we’re losing to graduation. They definitely helped us set a foundation for the future.”