A bittersweet feeling lingered in the mind of Hays Rebel senior Ryann Torres Monday long after the Schertz Clemens Buffaloes brought her team’s 2019 campaign to a heartbreaking end.
On the one hand was a Rebel effort that pushed Clemens, ranked 4th in Class 6A and winners of 30-plus straight matches, to the brink of a possible upset. On the other was missing out on a final chance to win a postseason match as Hays fell to Clemens 25-23, 15-25, 20-25, 19-25 in their bi-district playoff at Bales Gym.
Through it all, Torres and her fellow seniors have come to recognize their successes, no matter the disappointments. After all, they have now become one of the first Hays volleyball classes in several years to reach the postseason in all four years.
“It’s been a ride. We’ve had a lot of ups and downs,” Torres said. “We’re known for coming back. It’s been great holding everyone’s hand this year. It’s sad I won’t get to play with them anymore.”
Rebel head coach Ashley Davis lauded the team’s five seniors who she said took on various leadership roles during the season. The expectation and tradition of winning and reaching the postseason was also a driver for many of the seniors this season, Davis said.
“These kids had good role models before them. It’s a tradition thing,” Davis said.
Hays’ senior leadership stepped forward early on by helping orchestrate a 7-1 run down the stretch in the first frame to take a 1-0 match lead. It was the first time a team had won a set against Clemens in more than a month’s time.
Torres said Clemens focused on Hays’ outside hitters and couldn’t handle the Rebels middle blockers early on. Playing smart and taking good shots, as well as finding “who wants the ball” helped to generate points, Torres said.
Rebel junior Maddie Krafka cited an influx of energy in the early going as the catalyst for the first set success. Strong play at the net also helped to keep Clemens’ attack at bay, Davis said.
“Knowing we only had a 9 percent chance to win, we just wanted to show out, especially playing at home and with it being senior night again,” Krafka said. “We wanted to show out and at least give them a little competition.”
Momentum carried over into the second frame as Hays sped out to a 12-4 lead highlighted by kills by Torres and senior Reagan Casey.
But just as Hays looked to dial up the pressure, it immediately cooled off. Clemens quickly pounced on the opportunity by outscoring Hays 21-8 to win set two and tie the match.
A similar theme played out in the next frame as an 8-3 Rebel lead evaporated with Clemens running away with the set and taking a 2-1 match advantage. Davis said Clemens “was a little crisper than us,” served well and played more in-system during the course of the match. Clemens’ play also forced Hays into a handful of unforced errors that stymied its success.
Three Buffaloes finished with 10 or more kills with Ashley Breu scoring a game high 15 kills.
“I think we left it on the floor. I can’t be upset with how it unfolded, really,” Davis said.
Casey, who played her lone volleyball season at the high school level in 2019, also felt she and her teammates “left it all on the court.”
“I’m so glad, I’m excited to play this year. I couldn’t have been happier with the way everyone welcomed me back to the program,” Casey said. “It’s been an awesome season. I’m proud of everyone.”