ANNAWAN — The St. Bede volleyball team rolled into the Annawan 1A Regional final looking to end an 18-year regional title drought.
However, the No. 7-seeded Lady Bruins learned a hard lesson that sometimes when you play well, the other team plays better.
That’s what happened Thursday as No. 2 Princeville seemed to win every long rally and had many close calls go its way in a 25-19, 25-20 victory.
“I felt we played well,” St. Bede coach Karrie Damerell said. “I’m happy and proud of the girls for this whole tournament. Obviously, it’s not the way we wanted it to end, but I can’t say enough about how they have improved over the course of the season. They never gave up, they fought for every point, and that’s where you want to be. Hopefully, they can take away some good memories and some great moments they can carry with them for a long time.”
The Lady Bruins jumped ahead 7-5 on the service of Marissa Boehm and a kill from Reese Ludford.
But the Lady Princes jumped back into the lead on Elle Shupbach’s serve in which she added a kill and an ace.
St. Bede put a halt to the run when Elaina Wanhoff floated the ball into an open spot in enemy territory.
The Lady Bruins tightened the game up more on Boehm’s serve with the help of kills from Miranda Mazzorana and Berklee Linnig to bring the score to 16-15.
Princeville got the serve back on a kill from Shupbach before Taylor Catton fired an ace and Julianna Kiellon added another kill to put Princeville up 21-15.
The Lady Bruins fired back on Ludford’s service, which included an ace. Norissa Martin hammered home a spike for Princeville to make the score 22-19.
Princeville’s Shupbach then fired an ace, and a stuff block from Brinlee Baumann put an end to the first set.
The second set began with the Lady Princes jumping out to a 10-6 lead on the strength of a pair of Martin kills and two more by Shupbach.
The four-point lead held with both teams making great defensive plays and stopping the other team’s big hitters.
During the sequence, Mazzorana, Boehm, Linnig and Claire Morrow were strong at the net, while diving all over the floor and seemingly digging every ball were Wamhoff, Payton Giordano and Renn Ludford.
Trailing 18-13, the Lady Bruins showed their fight and rallied for four points on Reese Ludford’s serve to pull within one at 18-17.
Making major contributions to the run were Wamhoff with a dink over the net and Mazzorana with a block and a kill on consecutive points.
However, that was as close as St. Bede got as Shupbach and Martin powered the Lady Princes to the win with Bauman putting down a kill to finish the set, the match and the Lady Bruins’ season.
“Princeville has some nice players,” Damerell said. “Elle Shupbach is an aggressive player and very smart, and we struggled containing her at the net. We were not able to get our middles involved in system, which really changes the complexity of the game. They made some great plays and kept us out of system; so congratulations to them.
“I can’t say enough about our girls. I’m proud of them and what they did to get here. We have a good group coming back that got some good varsity experience, but tonight you really want to focus on the seniors and what they have done the last few years.”
The Lady Bruins whose high school careers ended Thursday were Abby Weber, Berklee Linnig and Kassidy Brady, along with a pair of injured players, Ellyn Nowakowski and Macy Bosnich.