PITTSBURG — For the first time in 15 years, the Prairiland Lady Patriots advanced to the regional volleyball tournament. The New Boston Lady Lions stood in the way of Prairiland and the regional semifinals, but the Lady Patriots would not be denied.
Prairiland used strong offense and sharp defense to eliminate New Boston in straight sets by a final score of 25-16, 25-12 and 25-18.
“It feels great to get this regional win,” Lady Patriots senior Trynity Chapman said. “After 15 years, It’s special to get the win, especially for the seniors because we don’t want our season to win.”
New Boston held a lead early in the first set and came back to take a small lead in the middle of the third set, but Prairiland remained poised in reclaiming the lead quickly on both occasions.
“They (New Boston) tried to rattle us, but we were able to stay level-headed for the most part,” Prairiland head volleyball coach Emily Vanderburg said. “We just kept on chipping away, getting the ball back, getting one point at a time and just focused on fixing anything that needed to be fixed.”
One of the keys to Prairiland’s success was its togetherness on the court. Whenever tense moments did arrive in the match, the Lady Patriots stayed calm and built each other up to prevail past the tests New Boston threw at them.
“We knew we had to play together, play up and not worry about the score,” Lady Patriots senior Audrey Gray said. “We worried more about each point, how we’re going to execute get each point and where to place the ball. We stayed up together.”
Prairiland senior Brook Tuck broke a 7-all tie early in the first set with a kill, and junior T.J. Folse followed with a kill of her own to give the Lady Pats a 9-7 lead. After that, Folse recorded a block, senior Madison Clark put down a kill and junior Reese Parris hammered home a kill to stretch the lead to 12-8. Parris had a block touch the court for a point on the next point to increase Prairiland’s advantage to 13-8, which forced New Boston to call a timeout.
From there, Prairiland gradually continued to pull away as kills from senior Baylor Sessums and Folse made it 21-14 later in the set and eventually en route to a 25-16 win.
The Lady Pats dominated the second set, turning a 9-8 lead into 11-8 after back-to-back kills from Parris, which sparked a 14-4 run to end the set at 25-12. Prairiland hedl a 13-10 lead in its close-out third set, but New Boston used a 5-0 run to claim a 15-13 lead, which forced Prairiland to call a timeout. Back-to-back kills from Sessums tied the set at 15-all, then a New Boston error and an ace from Gray made it 17-15 in favor of the Lady Patriots. Prairiland nursed a slim lead the rest of the way, and eventually won the set with a strong finish in the form of a 6-2 scoring run.
Sessums led Prairiland with 14 kills, 15 assists, 10 digs and 2 aces, while Clark had 7 kills, 17 assists and 9 digs. Tuck finished with 3 kills, 5 assists, 10 digs, 2 blocks and 1 ace, while Gray registered 2 kills, a team-high 11 digs and 1 ace. Chapman totaled 8 digs and 1 ace, while Folse tallied 8 kills and 2 blocks. Parris performed well with 7 kills and 2 blocks.
Prairiland made history by reaching the regional tournament for the first time in 15 years, but the team knows the journey has just begun as the stakes have been raised greatly.
“We’ve got to continue to fight and put in the work,” Vanderburg said. “I’ve told them each round and each step of the way is going to get a little bit harder, and we’re about to face some pretty stout competition. We’re just going to have to up our level to be ready for the first round of the regional tournament.”
The Lady Patriots face Van Alstyne at 7 p.m. Friday at Midlothian High School in the regional semifinals.
S1 S2 S3 S4 S5 F
Prairiland: 25 25 25 N/A N/A 3
New Boston: 16 12 18 N/A N/A 0
Prairiland kill leaders: B. Sessums, 14; T. Folse, 8; M. Clark, 7; R. Parris, 7; B. Tuck, 3; A. Gray, 2
Prairiland dig leaders: A. Gray, 11; B. Sessums, 10; B. Tuck, 10; M. Clark, 9; T. Chapman, 8; T. Folse, 3
Prairiland assist leaders: M. Clark, 17; B. Sessums, 15; B. Tuck, 5
Prairiland blocks: T Folse, 2; R. Parris, 2; B. Tuck, 2
Prairiland service aces: B. Sessums, 2; T. Chapman, 1; A. Gray, 1; B. Tuck, 1