The Lady Panthers could not come up with a much-needed win in Farmersville last Friday night, losing the match 3-1 and suffering a blow to their playoff hopes.
Van Alstyne needed wins over the Lady Farmers, Leonard and Sunnyvale to lock up a postseason berth, and Friday’s results created a much bigger hill for the team to climb.
The first set was a nail-biter that went down to the wire and beyond.
After falling behind by six midway through the set, Van Alstyne came roaring back to forge ties at 21-21 and more before finally falling, 31-29.
A kill by Ellie Perkins, then two more from Rebecca Franklin tied up the set, 21-all before the two teams began trading points.
An ace by Perkins gave Van Alstyne its first lead of the set, 24-23, but the Lady Panthers could not knock down that winning point as Farmersville came back to tie at 24-all.
The set was tied at 29-29 before the officials realized that, in some cases, volleyball games end when one team gets to 30. After a brief timeout, play was resumed under the usual "must win by two" rule.
Unfortunately, the first team to two was Farmersville as they held on for the win.
The visitors came back in the second, and never trailed in a 25-20 win.
A line-shot by Perkins, one of her 10 kills in the match, got the Lady Panthers off to a good start. Following aces by Perkins and Franklin, the lead was 11-3. A kill by Maddison O’Hanlon kept the Lady Panthers on top, and after Raigan Servati knocked down a shot the lead was 21-14.
Molly McQuirk pushed home a winner and the Lady Farmers never responded as they dropped the five-point set.
Van Alstyne got off to another good start in the third set and it looked as though the visitors had found their groove. After a 10-10 tie, Van Alstyne outscored the Lady Farmers,12-7, to take a 22-17 lead.
The tall front line of Farmersville began to knock in some winners, however, and the Lady Panther defense became a little shaky. With three girls in the 5-11 to 6-foot range on the front row, it was hard to get anything by that lineup.
A kill by Haven Neal, the six-footer, tied the game at 22-22, and a pair of kills by 5-11 Airanna Brooks keyed the late run that gave Farmersville the 25-22 win.
Van Alstyne fell behind early in the fourth set and never recovered as Farmersville got the 25-19 win for the set and match.
In addition to Perkins’ efforts, Franklin had 14 kills, McQuirk had 19 assists and Brooke Robertson had 14 digs to keep the ball in play.
Van Alstyne 3, Leonard 0
The Lady Panthers ended a four-match losing skid in Leonard on Oct. 15, beating the Lady Tigers 3-0.
Rebecca Franklin had nine kills, Molly McQuirk had 15 assists and five aces and Shelby Litzkow tallied 11-digs in the Van Alstyne sweep.
As for the rest of the way, the Lady Panthers go into the Sunnyvale match on Friday with a half-game lead over the Lady Raiders. Van Alstyne has matches remaining with Caddo Mills and Gunter, while Sunnyvale must play Farmersville, Pilot Point and Caddo Mills to wrap up their regular season.