WOLFFORTH — The Big Spring Lady Steers strong 2020 season has come to an end.
Big Spring traveled to Wolfforth on Thursday night to challenge the Canyon Lady Eagles for the Bi-District title inside the Frenship Tiger Pit. The Lady Steers were the third-place finishers from District 3-4A while Canyon was the second-place finisher from District 4-4A.
The tall and versatile Canyon team was able to defeat Big Spring convincingly in three straight sets (11-25, 9-25, 16-25). They will move on to the Area round of the playoffs early next week while Big Spring will be putting away the net until next fall.
“I thought we played them very well at times. They’re (Canyon) a really good team, and they had a ton of size near the net,” Head Volleyball Coach Kaitlyn Braswell said.
Big Spring was playing without one of their best players, Kalyn Whitehead, and her absence was glaring at times. Whitehead is one of the most accurate and powerful hitters on the team - as well as the main setter - and without her the Lady Steers were missing a vital part of their rotation.
“It’s always tough when one of your players is out with an injury. She’s one of our team leaders and we missed her out there tonight,” Braswell said.
The first set started off evenly-matched and the Lady Steers even went on a four-point scoring streak early that put them ahead 4-1. Ryen Terrazas was able to come up with a kill during that streak while teammate Gisele Holguin was able to collect two aces from her server spot.
Canyon then turned up the heat and went on a scoring streak of their own. This time, the Lady Eagles scored eight straight points that put themselves ahead 9-4 and forced Braswell to take her first timeout.
After returning from the timeout, Canyon continued to dominate the set with their size near the net and their awareness to let some ball sail out of bounds. The combination of Tristan Smith and Jacqueline Belew combined for a block near the net that instilled some life into their bench and the crowd, but it was not enough. The Lady Eagles were able to run away with the first set (25-11) and took that momentum with them moving forward into the second set.
Canyon completely controlled the second set behind the power and accuracy of Raylee Bain, Carlee Henderson, and Ryne Roden. For Big Spring, Kortney Moore had a strong set that included two aces and one kill, but it was not enough for her team to challenge for the set. The Lady Eagles had jumped out to a 17-4 lead before the Lady Steers went on another short scoring streak to make the score more respectable. Canyon then closed the set on an eight-point scoring streak (25-9) and the Lady Eagles just needed one more set win to advance to the next round.
Heading into the third set, Braswell had a discussion with her team about fighting until the last point is scored and her players appeared to do just that.
“I just told them to leave it all on the court. We were making some good plays, we just needed to string them together and I feel like we did that for the majority of that third set,” Braswell said.
Big Spring battled hard throughout the third set and kept it neck-and-neck for more than half of it. The Lady Steers were playing well together as a team and they were fighting to keep their season alive.
Canyon began to pull away just a little and grabbed their biggest lead of the third set (16-13) when Braswell decided to take a timeout. The Lady Eagles were able to finish the set by outscoring the Lady Steers 9-3 following that timeout and sent Big Spring home with an opening-round postseason loss.
Big Spring has not made it past the Bi-District round of the postseason in six years (2014 was their last appearance in the Area round), but they showed a ton of improvement this season. After winning just four games in 2019, the Lady Steers more than tripled that win total this fall (13-15, 5-5).
The calendar will now flip to winter sports and we will see a large majority of the Lady Steer volleyball players taking the hardwood next month for the start of basketball season.
Shawn Moran is the sports writer at the Big Spring Herald. To contact him, e-mail email@example.com or call 432-263-7331.