The Chisum Lady Mustangs hosted the district-leading Prairiland Lady Patriots in the last game of the first half of each team’s district slate. The rivals squared off on the hardwood on Friday, which was also Chisum’s homecoming day.
Chisum put forth a strong effort, playing close to the experienced Prairiland squad throughout the match. However, the more experienced Lady Patriots team weathered the storm and emerged victorious over Chisum. Prairiland won in straight sets by a final score of 25-16, 25-22, and 25-10.
“It was a real battle,” Lady Patriots head volleyball coach Emily Vanderburg said. “They (Chisum) battled it out and they pushed us like they needed to push us. Having experienced players helped us a lot, though, because they’ve been in situations like this before. They know what it takes to get through a rivalry game.”
Prairiland (15-2, 6-0) was feeling the pressure early on from a scrappy Chisum squad. However, the Lady Patriots were able to collectively find their groove and move to 6-0 in district play.
“It was pretty neck-and-neck in the beginning and we were working with a new rotation with a couple of players having to sit out,” Prairiland senior middle blocker Reese Parris said. “We kind of got back into our rhythm, got more and more comfortable, and it all came together for us in the end.”
Chisum (10-5, 1-5) was competitive on their home court from the opening serve. Back-to-back kills from sophomore Carly Bell and senior Kaci Williams put the home team ahead 9-8 in the opening set. A few points later, senior middle blocker Chloe Prestridge hammered a kill to give the Lady Mustangs the lead at 13-12. The Lady Patriots did not flinch, though.
Down by one point, Prairiland took a 19-13 lead after a 7-0 run. Chisum battled well, but could not get closer than four points the rest of the first set. The Lady Mustangs were down but far from out.
The Lady Mustangs trailed 7-5 early in the second set. But, a kill from senior Kelsea Ball capped a 4-0 run and put Chisum ahead 9-7. Later in the set, Prairiland used another crucial scoring run to take a 16-12 lead. In spite of the deficit, the effort and drive only increased for the Lady Mustangs coming out of a timeout.
“They played with a lot of heart,” Chisum head volleyball coach Laura Nickerson said. “I told them that was probably the best they’ve played this year with the heart, hustle, and effort they played with. If we tweak some of the mistakes we made with missed serves and other things, I mean, they didn’t beat us those first two games. In the first game, we gave them 10 points. I told them the team that will win makes the least amount of errors, and unfortunately we made more errors.”
Trailing 16-12, Chisum tied the second set at 16-all after an incredible effort from Ball. The senior lost a shoe during the tying point, but that did not cloud her focus. Ball swiftly tossed the loose sneaker to the bench and recorded a pair of digs to help her team record the point. Prairiland senior T.J. Folse delivered a powerful response as she unloaded a massive kill straight at Ball on the next point. With the kill, the visitors held a 17-16 lead. Despite that, the teams stayed close on the scoreboard the rest of the set.
Tied at 19-all, Lady Pats junior Ali Sessums recorded a kill and Chisum committed an error to give Prairiland a 21-19 lead. Coming out of a timeout, Chisum junior Emmy Williams registered a kill to cut the deficit to 21-20. A few points later, Parris’ ace ended the set and a 4-2 run to close out the set. Prairiland pulled away from Chisum in the middle of the third set to clinch the sweep. Nonetheless, Nickerson was pleased with her team’s strong showing against a quality opponent.
“They never quit,” Nickerson said. “They were hustling and getting a lot of balls up into play that before would have hit the floor. The blocking was huge for us, too. Chloe (Prestridge) and Emmy (Williams) had a lot of blocks and got a ton of touches on the front line.”
The Lady Patriots could not have defeated their energized and scrappy rivals without solid contributions from the younger players.
“Seeing them come up from a lower level and now on varsity — it’s amazing,” Parris said. “They’ve been working their butts off, we all have, and it makes me as a senior want to step up even more as a leader. It’s really nice to see that everyone wants to work hard.”
Folse led Prairiland with 11 kills, 4 digs, 2 aces, and 1 block, while Parris tallied 6 kills, 6 digs, 1 ace, and 1 block. Sophomore setter Chloe Raley totaled 24 assists, while Sessums had 6 kills and 10 digs. Katelynn Cornmesser also contributed to the win with 3 kills and 2 aces. Kyndal Yaross and Lanna Riney combined to finish the match with 9 digs.
Prestridge led Chisum with 10 kills, 3 digs, and 3 blocks, while Emmy Williams recorded 8 kills, 2 blocks, and 1 ace. Senior libero Kaci Williams added 10 digs and plenty of quality hustle plays to anchor the back row. Bell made several solid plays in an outing of 8 assists and 6 digs. Lady Mustangs freshman Emma Garner also chipped in with 4 kills and 2 blocks.
Prairiland has only lost twice this season and has not suffered a loss in district play. With that, the team knows the upcoming home stretch and beyond is crucial.
“We can’t be satisfied,” Vanderburg said. “We have to play every single team again, and we have a target on our backs being undefeated in district. All of those teams are going to play the best games they can to tarnish that record, so we have to be ready.”
For Chisum, the loss was a tough pill to swallow, but the team has plenty of positive momentum to build from as it moves forward.
“It’s frustrating to lose, but I’m so proud of the girls in how they gave it 100 percent and never quit,” Nickerson said. “Even during the times they were down in the match, they kept coming back and didn’t give up. They fought hard and that’s huge for us.”
The Lady Patriots will take the court again at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Lone Oak, while Chisum looks to bounce back at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Commerce. For more sports coverage, click here.