After reeling off three straight wins the El Campo Ladybirds (3-5) wanted a tough test to see how far they’ve come. Tuesday night at Ricebird Gym, the Ladybirds were almost good enough to beat the 3A state champion Industrial Lady Cobras, falling in a dramatic five sets 25-21, 18-25, 20-25, 25-23, 13-15.
“I told the girls after the game. ‘I’m not mad. You (girls) played a heck of a game and that’s all you can ask for as a coach, is a team that does not give up,’” Ladybirds coach Kelsey Johns said.
The Ladybirds had big nights from nearly everyone on the team, including their defense led by senior Mackenzie Matlock who had 40 digs. The defense which closed gaps and got balls nearly all night long and finished with 92 digs as a team.
The power and pin-point accuracy of the Lady Cobras was ultimately the difference, allowing them to squeak out a win over the Ladybirds.
In the first set, the Ladybirds led coast to coast. El Campo the rest of the night, had to fight back, sometimes from deep holes, to win a set or get themselves back into the game.
Pushed to a final set, the Lady Cobras opened with a big 7-3 lead. El Campo called a timeout to try and regroup.
Sophomore Ella Rod landed a kill and junior Alyssa Mendez got a block to make it 7-5. Industrial went on another short 4-2 run to put them ahead by four, a decent lead in a game to 15.
A bad serve gave El Campo the ball back and then the Ladybirds scored three straight points, two on tips to tie the game 11-11. Back-to-back Ladybird mistakes put them in the hole again 13-11. Freshman Kamryn Till smacked a kill over the net to keep them in the game. Industrial answered with their own kill to put them up by two once again. Junior Ella Jenkins kept them in the game with a big block on an Industrial swing to make it 14-13. The Ladybirds offered a block on the final point, but it had a bad deflection away from the rest of the El Campo defense to fall inbounds giving the Lady Cobras the hard-fought win.
The Ladybirds came as close as you can to knocking off Industrial. Despite the loss, El Campo will reap some benefits from the game.
“It’s hard to watch film when you’re not (playing a competitive game),” Johns said. “This is going to be great flim for the girls to watch and see the movement of (our) defense.”
The offense was provided in large part by El Campo’s youth with 38 kills between sophomore Kate Bodungen (19), Rod (12) and Till (7).
Bodungen all-around was key for El Campo Tuesday night, not only with a team-high 19 kills, she also had 19 digs and, 4 aces, more than than the team combined.
El Campo will be back in action on Tuesday with a road game against the West Columbia Lady Roughnecks.