Flower Mound head volleyball coach Jamie Siegel knew her team would go five sets with Byron Nelson on Monday night. That’s what it took to beat the top-ranked Bobcats in the Class 6A Region I quarterfinals at The Colony High School.
After the Jaguars dropped the opening game, they took a 2-1 lead before closing out against a strong Nelson rally in the fifth set to hand the Bobcats just their second loss of the season 18-25, 25-20, 25-22, 18-25, 15-13.
The Jaguars (39-7) secured their first trip to the regional tournament, which begins Friday at Thomas Coliseum.
“This felt like a state championship,” Siegel said. “We knew it was going to be a battle. We knew what they had, they have a good team, but our girls fought hard and played with a lot of heart.”
The turning point of the game came late in the third set.
In a game where no one had a lead greater than three points, Byron Nelson (42-2) took a 22-20 advantage, which forced Siegel to call a timeout. The Jaguars responded with three-straight that forced Nelson to call time before ultimately finishing on a 5-0 run.
“It was a crazy match,” senior middle blocker and Oklahoma commit Abby Butler said. “I’m really proud of how everyone played. Nelson is a really great team and we were excited to play them. We trusted each other and knew if we played our best we could win.”
The Bobcats gained the better start with an 8-2 lead in the first game. Senior middle and Harding commit Kelli McKinnon pushed the lead to 15-10. Flower Mound tried to rally back to within 20-16, but senior setter Meredith Fusselman set up McKinnon for another kill attempt on set point that just landed past a diving Jaguar.
After Flower Mound lost its early 4-1 lead in the second game, the Jaguars did go up 13-8, which forced Byron Nelson head coach Bri Barker Groth to call her first timeout.
Butler registered the first of two-straight blocks to extend their lead to 16-11. Sophomore hitters Angelique Cyr and Kaylee Cox slammed kills down the middle to help tie the match.
“We just had to limit our errors and play our game,” Butler said. “We knew we could hang with them so we just had to control our game and have more energy.”
After Nelson gained momentum in the fourth game, Flower Mound took a 7-2 lead in the fifth set. The Jaguars extended the lead to 13-9 before the Bobcats pulled within 14-13.
“It just showed how much fight this team has after we were able to get a lead and then close it out when Nelson was coming back,” Butler said. “It shows how much we love playing together.”
“Our girls focus on the little details in practice and those things take care of the big picture,” Siegel added. “We knew this would be a five-setter, but our mentality is to win the next point.”
Flower Mound, which had made it to the regional quarterfinals two other times, will await Tuesday’s winner between El Paso Coronado and Midland Lee. The Jaguars will play in the second semifinal at 8 p.m. Friday. The first game, 6 p.m., will feature the winners between Arlington Martin and Weatherford, and Southlake Carroll and Waxahachie.
The regional final is 1 p.m. Saturday.
“Our work is still ahead of us,” Siegel said. “We’ll enjoy it tonight, but we’re back on the hardwood tomorrow.”