The runs were short, too short for a preseason that is already half over.
With just two weeks before their District 8-5A opener against perennial power Waco Midway, the Shoemaker Lady Grey Wolves failed to finish rallies against 3A Llano and lost to the Yellow Jackets in four games — 25-21, 25-21, 21-25, 25-11 — Friday night.
“My girls tend to get a little ’laxed in games and I constantly tell them they can’t do it,” Shoemaker coach Merdith Shaw-Moore said. “To be honest with you, for some of them, it’s a norm for them. When I got here, a lot of things were normal and what I’m trying to do is get them out of the norm.”
Llano scored the final 13 points of Game 4 to get the win, closing out the Lady Grey Wolves (7-4) who had the Yellow Jackets playing on their heels in the final points of the first two games.
“I think it was nerves a little bit,” Shoemaker senior outside hitter Tearra Roberson said of the stalled runs. “It’s a mental thing. I know that my team can do it and I believe in them, so I think we can do it.”
Llano led by at least five in all four games, but the Lady Grey Wolves seemingly played at their best from behind, forcing multiple game points in the first two games. But they never had enough to come all the way back.
“I think as a coach, I’ve got to condition them a little more. A lot of people don’t understand how much endurance and conditioning you need to play volleyball,” Shaw-Moore said. “The fight is there. I’m pleased with them fighting and not just quitting. That within itself is improvement and it’s pleasing to me.”
Roberson and Aria Price led Shoemaker with 10 kills apiece. Roberson added seven blocks and Price four. Naiya Porell added 12 digs and Anessa Pitts had 14 assists.
Down 0-2 in the match, Shoemaker dug out of an early 10-5 hole with a team effort in Game 3. Five different players stepped up with points to take a 13-12 lead following a Roberson block.
Later, a Llano serve to the net gave Shoemaker an 18-17 lead. After kills by Price and Roberson, the Lady Grey Wolves led 23-21 and won after back-to-back hitting errors by a shaken Yellow Jackets offense.
“We didn’t push as hard (in Games 1, 2 and 4). Game 3, we were more consistent and I think Game 4, we just let it go,” Roberson said.
Takeyra Powell scored back-to-back points in Game 4 for a 4-1 lead, but Llano took an 8-7 advantage on seven Shoemaker hitting errors and led 11-9 after a block by Amanda Morgan.
Out of a time out, a Roberson kill made it 11-10, but the Yellow Jackets were able to pull away on six points by Llano team captain Cierra Jordan in their match-winning run at the end of Game 4.