BROKEN ARROW — The ninth-ranked Verdigris Lady Cardinals appeared to be a team of destiny in the Class 4A regional volleyball playoffs Thursday at Summit Christian Academy.
Verdigris won its opening match in the semifinals against Holland Hall in five thrilling sets (25-16, 19-25, 23-25, 25-15, 15-12).
The Lady Cardinals then went the distance again in the championship match and came oh so close before falling in a heart breaker to eighth-ranked Summit Christian (18-25, 26-24, 22-25, 25-21, 14-16).
"That was a lot of fun," Verdigris head coach Caleb Horton said. "The atmosphere at Summit was something I've never coached in before. Both sections of fans were unbelievable."
Verdigris finished 25-10. The Lady Eagles (24-4), who cruised past Tulsa Webster in three sets in Thursday's other semifinal, advanced to the state tournament.
The quarterfinals will be at Choctaw High School next Friday. The semifinals and finals will be at Shawnee High School next Saturday.
SUMMIT CHRISTIAN 3, VERDIGRIS 2 (championship)
The Lady Cardinals trailed two sets to one and found themselves down 18-14 in the fourth set.
They rallied, however, and evened things up thanks in part to consecutive aces from freshman Logan Hamilton.
The teams then alternated the first 13 points of the final set, before Verdigris eventually pulled out to a 10-6 advantage.
The Lady Cardinals were ahead 13-10, but Summit responded with three straight points. Verdigris then got to match point after a kill from freshman Morgan Borgstadt.
The Lady Eagles, however, survived that match point and then picked up the final two points of the set to claim the hard-fought contest.
"To be honest, I couldn't have asked for a better way to end the season (with) the eighth and ninth ranked teams going five and to be settled by two points," Horton said. "We were at match point and it just didn't go our way. I am very proud of my team and would do it all over again."
VERDIGRIS 3, HOLLAND HALL 2 (semifinal)
Just as it would be in the title match, the Lady Cardinals were behind two sets to one to the Lady Dutch (9-19).
Verdigris gave up the opening point of the fourth set, but then took control and cruised fairly comfortably.
Emma Beats eventually put the set away with a kill.
The final set went back and forth.
The Lady Cardinals had an early 3-1 lead, but Holland Hall responded to take a 9-7 advantage.
Verdigris answered with the next three points, including a couple of Hamilton kills. The Lady Dutch bounced back though and went up 12-11.
The Lady Cardinals, however, came up with the final four points of the match.
A turning point for Verdigris came at this year's Port City Classic in Catoosa. The Lady Cardinals entered with an 8-7 record, the same as last season.
Verdigris only won one game in the 2018 tournament and eventually finished 12-18. This year, however, the Lady Cardinals went 7-2.
They won every match after that, prior to last night's defeat.
"My goals this season of going .500 and putting ourselves into a position to make it to regional finals were met and exceeded," Horton said. "There was so much growth on this team. There's no way anyone could have convinced me that we would end up 25-10. I've had a chance to talk to a few of my players and they seem to feel the same way. They are disappointed the season is over but are proud of what they have accomplished.
“I am hopeful that this the start of more successful seasons to come."