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Notre Dame volleyball team falls just short of third at state tourney
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kate Edwards shouted from her middle position, shouted for the ball and the set she wanted with her team holding a slim lead in the third and deciding game of the Class 3 third-place game.
She got it -- a quick, short set just above the net -- and she killed it, just as she often did for Notre Dame in the match.
It was Edwards and the Bulldogs at their best, playing the best they had all weekend in the biggest of moments, but that proved to be not quite enough for Notre Dame on Saturday and it dropped the third-place match to Logan-Rogersville 16-25, 25-15, 26-24.
Edwards said her aggressiveness was driven by "just that overwhelming desire not to have what happened last year happen again.
"This is our last game, you had to push as hard as you could. If you're exhausted after, whatever, because you're done. That's it."
The final result was the same in the end, though, with Notre Dame falling to the same Logan-Rogersville team that upended it 25-18, 25-13 in last year's third-place match.
"We really gave it our all and ultimately we pushed as hard as we could, but we're very evenly matched and it happened," an exasperated Edwards said. "Can't really do anything now."
The Bulldogs saved their finest play for their final match at the final four, earning two match points at 24-22 thanks to a solo stuff by Jaime Brugger in the middle.
"Jamie Brugger's been playing middle all season and she got some key, crucial blocks at some key times," Notre Dame coach Tara Stroup said. "I thought they came out to play today. I was hoping that they would."
Logan-Rogersville erased both match points before a second-touch set over the net from the Wildcats' setter fell on Notre Dame's side and a block gave it the win.
"I'm really proud of their efforts," Stroup said. "That was so close, they tried so hard. I told them don't hang your heads about anything. You gave it a great chance. Last year I felt like we were kind of scared or it kind of got to some kids like, 'This is our last game.' I thought they went out swinging. That's all they could do. They did really well."
Edwards led Notre Dame with 12 kills to just three errors, while senior Shannon Brennan added 10 kills and 14 assists.
Allyson Bradshaw had seven kills and Ashley Humphrey had 19 assists for Notre Dame.
Just as they had in pool play Friday, the teams exchanged big wins in the first two games of the match.
Notre Dame raced out to an 8-1 lead at the start and never allowed the Wildcats to get closer than six points for the remainder of the game.
"Our passes were just perfect," Bradshaw said of the quick start. "Every single pass was to our target and our hits were in the right spot. Everybody was in the right place at the right time. We were just playing our game."
Bradshaw led the Bulldogs on defense, digging a match-high 21 balls, most of which left Notre Dame setters with the ability to use all of their offensive options.
"Whenever I'm on defense, I want the ball to come to me," Bradshaw said. "I want to be the one to pass it. I'm confident in myself on defense because this year that's what I've worked the hardest on."
Logan-Rogersville got off to an impressive start in Game 2, opening a 15-3 lead before the Bulldogs were able to recover.
"They didn't make a lot of mistakes the second game and we got behind at the very beginning," Brugger said. "We kept getting behind and we got kind of freaked out, but then the momentum totally switched at the end of the second game and we were ready to go for Game 3."
A 5-1 run near the end of the game gave Notre Dame that momentum heading into the deciding game.
"Every game this weekend we played we always did really well the first game and then we sort of lost control in the second," Edwards said. "It just drove me crazy that that was happening again. I just could not let that happen again. That was the one thing in my mind. I don't even know how to describe it."
Game 3 was close from the outset as both teams played well at the same time for the first time at the final four.
Notre Dame held the game's biggest lead at 14-9, but after Logan-Rogersville tied the game 19-19, neither team held more than a one-point lead until the Bulldogs' match points at 24-22.
"I just wanted it to be over, but I wanted it to be over with us winning," Bradshaw said. "I felt comfortable with the other team serving because I wanted to get that first pass so we could put it to the floor and not have to play defense first."