ITALY — In 2017, both the Rockwall Yellowjackets and the Ellison Lady Eagles made it to the 6A bi-district round of the playoffs.
And both were eliminated.
It was a different story for Rockwall (24-13) on Tuesday night as it advanced to the area round of the playoffs by eliminating Ellison (30-12) on Tuesday night in three sets, 25-19, 25-15, 25-14.
Heading into the matchup, the Lady Eagles were outsized by the Yellowjackets as Ellison averaged 5-foot-5 versus the average Rockwall player standing at 6-1.
“We came out with a lot of adrenaline,” senior setter Jakarta Hope said. “Those girls were big, but we definitely put up a fight.”
Not letting the height difference intimidate them, the Lady Eagles started out with a 4-1 lead over the Yellowjackets behind blocks from Hope, junior Nasiyah Smith and senior Semira Fields.
Ellison continued to lead 7-0 with a kill from junior Reagan Davies, which led to Rockwall calling its only timeout of the game.
As the Yellowjackets began to catch up, Hope set up junior Cyhra Thompson for a kill that kept the Lady Eagles lead at 9-6.
While senior libero Jaraysia Hope stopped three kill attempts, Rockwall quickly tied the set four times before taking a 15-14 lead and forcing Ellison to call timeout.
“I’d do anything for my teammates,” said Jaraysia Hope of her multiple dig attempts. “I leave pieces of my skin on the court just so I can help my teammates out.”
But it wasn’t enough to slow down the Yellowjackets as they moved ahead 22-18 before the Lady Eagles used their second timeout of the set.
Jakarta Hope added a block at the end of the first set but Brette Thornton’s kill sealed the Yellowjackets first-set win.
“That was probably the best serving team we’ve seen all season,” said Ellison head coach Sarah Stolley. “I think we were with them in every phase of the game, but we did get beat on some blocking.”
Ellison took another early lead in the second set but Rockwall came back. A kill from Leah Shipman gave the Yellowjackets a 9-5 lead before the Lady Eagles called timeout.
Despite some adjustments, Thornton added three more kills to put Rockwall further ahead 17-9 and Ellison was forced to use another timeout.
Jakarta added two aces in the set to pull Ellison within six, 18-12.
But Shipman’s kill won the second set for Rockwall.
The Yellowjackets quickly took a 4-1 lead in the final set and the Lady Eagles tied the match 5-5 behind back-to-back kills from Fields and Thompson.
Rockwall then pulled away for an 18-9 lead before Ellison called timeout.
Oakley had an ace late in the set for the Lady Eagles’ final point but Rockwall went on to finish the sweep.
“We wanted it,” said Jakarta, “but we just happened to come up short.”
Thompson ended the night with four kills and two blocks, Fields had four kills, Jakarta Hope had seven assists and Jaraysia Hope had nine digs.
While this season didn’t end the way the Lady Eagles hoped, they have no regrets.
“It’s definitely been our best year as a team,” said Jakarta. “This team has so much heart. We put in the work and it definitely showed.
“Like tonight, I know we lost, but we did some great things for Ellison — for our school and our program.”
Added Jaraysia: “I couldn’t have asked for a better group of girls to play with.”
TUESDAY'S PLAYOFF VOLLEYBALL SCORES
- Copperas Cove def. Mesquite Horn 25-12, 25-14, 25-8
- Rockwall def. Ellison 25-19, 25-15, 25-14
- Rockwall-Heath def. Belton 25-17, 25-23, 25-21
- Boerne def. Salado 25-9, 25-16, 25-18
- No. 2 Midlothian Heritage def. Gatesville 25-11, 25-13, 25-15