The East Bernard Brahmarettes has hit a wall in the regional semi-finals the past couple of seasons. Missing a starter who was injured, the Brahmarettes last year had their season end in the fourth round at the Lexington Lady Eagles’ hands.
In a re-match of the fourth round Tuesday night in Brenham, the Brahmarettes were fully healthy this time around and got their revenge picking up the win.
East Bernard started slow, but once they got going, their all-out effort was enough to edge out Lexington in five sets 14-25, 25-20, 25-23, 24-26, 15-8
Lexington was hot early grabbing kills, and a series of aces, allowing them to jump out to an 11-4 lead. East Bernard chipped away at Lexington’s score, but unforced errors were the Brahmarettes downfall in set one.
Lexington’s senior outside hitter Shelby Ray was a force throughout the game. However, East Bernard’s defense tightened after the first set. East Bernard senior Peyton Mcguire and junior Reagan Goudeau made numerous athletic digs from the back row to keep the ball in play.
“We pinched our defense in just a little to adjust to the bigger hitters and kept encouraging our blockers to get up quick,” East Bernard assistant coach Christine Sheets said. “Small changes made a big difference. After the first game, the girls huddled up and decided they could hang with them; they just needed to settle down and play their game.”
Lexington and East Bernard traded points in the second set. Tied 15-15, East Bernard went on a 4-0 run, getting a tip from junior Samantha Rabius and three Lexington unforced errors. East Bernard would nurse the lead the rest of the way to tie the sets at one apiece.
In the third set, the Brahmarettes edged in front 13-8. Lexington came back, scoring three straight points forcing an East Bernard timeout. Lexington added another kill to pull within one point. The Lady Eagles tried to get another kill down to tie the game. However, Goudeau made back-to-back digs near the net on hard kill attempts, keeping the ball alive long enough for sophomore Bailey Leopold to land a kill to put East Bernard up by two. Lexington stayed close, but East Bernard held them off to put them one set away from a win.
Lexington held the advantage in the fourth set and led 17-11. Rather than hope for better play in the final set and resign themselves to a loss, East Bernard fought back. The Brahmarettes went on a 7-3 run to pull within two points. Sophomore Kellen Dorotik picked up a kill, and senior Madison Crist landed a tip to tie the game 20-20. Rabius gave East Bernard their first lead with a kill to make the game 22-21. Despite the comeback, a couple of big swings from Lexington put them back on top, and they hung on for the win.
Dorotik was a near one-lady wrecking crew in the final set, scoring nine of East Bernard’s 15 points. The Brahmarettes, behind a bevy of Dorotik kills and blocks rushed out to an 11-2 lead. Lexington wouldn’t go quietly, scoring six straight points to make it a game. A Lexington unforced error broke their momentum and Dorotik and Crist picked a kill each to put East Bernard one point away. The sophomore outside hitter stayed hot and scored the game-winner on a kill; Lexington tried to block the shot, but it was too hard of a shot. They couldn’t control it, and the ball fell out of bounds ending the game.
“Our coaching staff didn’t know if we should cry or laugh with excitement,” Sheets said. “The emotion throughout was simply pure joy.”
East Bernard will face Lorena this week with the becoming state semi-finalist. Lorena last season went three rounds deep.