By Jim Pitts
Special to the Daily Sun
All season long, the Rice volleyball team’s motto has been “Refuse to Lose”.
It was this determination that enabled the Lady Bulldogs (18-12) to overcome a slow start in District 23-2A to earn a state playoff spot, and it was that same determination that the Lady Bulldogs used to match-up with the No. 3-ranked team in the state, the Franklin Lady Lions.
Unfortunately for Rice, for all the heart the Lady Bulldogs exhibited, it still was not enough to overcome the Lady Lions (33-5), as Rice lost the bi-district match in three sets, 25-15, 25-15, 25-10, Tuesday night at the Johnson Activity Center on the campus of Fairfield High School.
“We gave them a run for their money,” Rice head coach Donna Gent said. “We started blocking and picking up their hits. We played with them.”
In the first set, it was a back-and-forth match as neither team could pull ahead by more than two points until Franklin reeled off six consecutive points and 13 out of 14 to take control of the set. Rice tried to rally behind the serving of Briana Weaver and Ashton Metcalfe and a kill by Sadie Gent, but kills by Carrie Casey and Krista Stickney closed out the first set.
The second set was much like the first set, with Rice, behind the serving of Emily Fletcher and the defense of Kamran McGee and Samantha Harris, trading points with the Lady Lions until the score was tied at 13. Franklin went on another run, outscoring the Lady Bulldogs, 12-2 to end the second set.
Franklin began the third set on a 7-0 run, before Rice scored four consecutive points, behind the serving of Metcalfe, to close the gap. The Lady Lions, with kills again by Casey and Stickney, responded with another run to push the lead to 15-4, effectively ending the third set and the match.
Rice was led on the night by Sadie Gent (6 kills, 7 digs), McGee (8 of 9 serving, 10 digs), Fletcher (9 of 9 serving, 1 ace), Weaver (6 of 6 serving, 3 assists, 2 digs), Metcalfe (8 of 9 serving, 3 digs), and Harris (3 digs, 1 kill).
Gent said she was proud of the season and of the way her team rallied to earn a playoff spot.
“We overcame a lot of adversity this season and pulled together as a team,” Gent said.