By Eric Butler: QCS Correspondent
Logan volleyball coach Heather McGovran didn’t hesitate to use a pair of timeouts early in the second game of a District 4-1A tournament match at Grady on Thursday. Despite a solid start that gave them the first game, the youthful Longhorns began to slip when the host Bronchos raced to a 14-3 lead in the second — largely thanks to a 14-1 run.
Although Logan wouldn’t suffer through another stretch quite like that, the momentum swing was more or less permanent and Grady parlayed the change into a 21-25, 25-17, 25-11, 25-23 victory.
Grady advanced to the championship of the 4-1A tourney at Clovis Christian Friday and also earned a spot in next week’s opening round of the state tournament. For Logan, the loss meant an end to the volleyball season.
“We came into tonight fully believing that we could win, we had every right to believe that,” said McGovran, whose team twice lost to the Bronchos earlier this season — once in five games at Logan and once in four at Grady. “They’re a great group of girls and they had a whole lot of fight in them. Grady just played a great match.”
Led by the hitting of Tiffany Rocker and Laken Humble, the Longhorns controlled much of the first game. Rocker had five kills and three serving aces in the opener while Humble added four kills and an ace.
But warning signs came late in the game when Logan, once ahead 20-14, were forced into a 21-21 tie when Grady registered a 7-1 run late. However, after a missed Bronchos’ serve gave the lead back to the Longhorns, a Rocker putaway was followed by a Humble ace to give Logan a 24-21 lead. The visitors then clinched the game on an errant kill attempt by Grady.
Humble led the Longhorns with ten kills while Rocker added nine for the evening. Megan Frost, whose defense at times sparkled, also tallied eight kills in the match. Logan also scored the first two points of the second game before the Bronchos, led by the serving of Skylar Starbuck and Payton Provencio, burst ahead.
“We just dropped our heads a little bit and lost a little bit of confidence there, but we started to pick it back up and started to fight back,” McGovran said.
In the third game, although Grady led from start to finish, Logan stayed within striking distance. But, behind 13-10, the Longhorns then gave up four straight points before getting one of their own. What was truly devastating in the crucial swing game was what came next — eight consecutive points for the Bronchos, including seven serving aces in a row from Katarina Grau.
Fighting to extend the match in the fourth, Logan opened up a 14-6 advantage following a 6-1 run of its own. In that stretch, Humble recorded three hard-hit kills and an ace while Frost added another service winner.
Grady fought back, however, and took a 20-19 lead after winning five points in a row. Later, with the fourth game tied at 23-23, Grady’s Starbuck got a kill and the Bronchos then clinched the victory on an ace by Starbuck.
“They wanted it and it breaks my heart because they wanted it bad,” said McGovran, who finished her first season as the Logan coach.