BRENHAM -- The Shiner Lady Comanches were hoping the third time would be the charm when it really mattered Saturday. But it wasn’t meant to be.
After losing to the Flatonia Lady Bulldogs twice in district play, the Lady Comanches gained yet another rematch in the Region IV-1A championship game only to once again come up shot in a three-game match 25-11, 25-15, 25-19.
The win sends Flatonia (31-9) to its second straight state tournament appearance, while Shiner ends its season at 27-10.
The top-ranked Lady Bulldogs had plenty of reasons to be concerned coming into the grudge match with their district rival.
"We came into the season with a lot of expectations," Lady Bulldogs coach Margie Velasquez said. "I haven’t looked at the polls in a while but we’ve been ranked No. 1 for most of the season so we’ve had a bull’s-eye on our back. Now that we’re back (to state) I think all they want is the gold and nothing else."
Flatonia appeared focused from the start even though Shiner jumped out to the early lead in all three games.
After a Brittany Williams kill tied the opening game at 6, Williams put the Lady Bulldogs in front with three aces and a kill from Katrina Mica.
Kelsey Williams followed that run with another 4-0 run with the help of a pair of kills from Kayla Michalec, while Kallie Mikulik put the game away with a 7-0 service run.
Mikulik had an ace, and was helped by a pair of kills from Brittany Williams and a kill from Kayla Dunk.
Alyssa Strauss got the Lady Comanches going in Game 2 as she fired in an ace and got help from two unforced Flatonia errors for a 4-0 advantage.
Flatonia fought right back behind two kills from Dunk to tie the game, but neither team was ready to give an inch.
Flatonia finally managed to pull away from the Lady Comanches after gaining a 17-14 edge.
Dunk put the Lady Bulldogs on a 5-0 run as Michalec and Mica teamed for a block, Williams slammed down a kill and Dunk had an ace for a 22-14 advantage.
Ieisha Flowers stopped the run with a kill, but Flatonia struck right back on a block by Mica off an Amber Stratman attack.
A dink by Kelsey Williams found the open floor for a 24-15 lead and Michalec finished it off with an ace.
Flatonia used two big runs in the third game to finish off the match.
The first run came with Mikulik at the service line where she nailed two aces and a got a kill from Brittany Williams for a 6-1 lead.
Then holding an 11-10 edge, Kelsey Williams served up four straight points for a 15-10 lead. Shiner would managed to get to within three twice, but saw its run come to an end on a net violation call.
"This is the fourth time we have played Shiner and they have come so far," Velasquez said. "Coach Winkenwerder has done a great job with that group. I think they and us have represented (District) 27-1A well."
Flatonia will be making its sixth state tournament appearance and will be looking to avenge loss to Windthorst in last year’s state semifinal match.
Windthorst will also be returning to the state tournament after defeating Archer City for the Region I title.
Kopperl and Lindsey were battling for the Region II title, while Iola and Normangee were to square off for the Region III title.
The Class 1A state semifinals will be Friday at 9 and 11 a.m. at the Strahan Coliseum on the campus of Texas State University in San Marcos. The championship game will be Saturday at 9 a.m.
Paul Ebner is the assistant sports editor for the Victoria Advocate.
Contact him at 361-580-6507 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.