Early match success by the Kingman High volleyball team didn't stick around for long, as No. 2-seeded Ironwood Ridge eliminated the Bulldogs from the Arizona Interscholastic Association Class 5A-II state playoffs Wednesday in Oro Valley. The Nighthawks sent the Bulldogs packing with a 25-8, 25-17, 25-14 win.
KHS (9-9) seemed to be ready for the match after Tesla Morgan and Lindsey Reed pounded in two kills early in the first set.
"We thought it was going to be a good fight," KHS coach Kasie Juelfs said.
But the Bulldogs had difficulty returning the Nighthawks' serves.
"We couldn't get sets to the hitters," Juelfs said. "We soon found ourselves in a huge hole."
The match was a reflection of the Bulldogs' inconsistent season. Juelfs said at times KHS showed signs of brilliance against the Nighthawks. "When we had a perfect 3-pass it was like clockwork," Juelfs said. "When it all came together, it was beautiful and unstoppable."
Defensively, the Bulldogs' blocking was spot on as Morgan, Reed, Dominique Hale, Sarah Morgan and Amber Caswell put up a wall against Ironwood Ridge (18-1).
"I was very proud of the team," Juelfs said. "They did not give up, and they stayed positive, regardless of the scores."
KHS improved by five wins from a year ago, and with only the loss of two seniors, Murphy and Karly Wyatt, there should be a continuing upswing for the Bulldogs.
"We did a lot things right this year," Juelfs said. "We just have to fine tune it for next year so we can be a consistently good team."
Though the Bulldogs were disappointed with the loss, Juelfs said they were happy with their effort.
"They realize they have the ability to improve," she said. "They know they can be a strong team next year."
Ironwood Ridge advanced to the semifinals with a win over No. 7 Mesa Desert Ridge on Thursday. Saturday's match against No. 3 Glendale Deer Valley had not ended by deadline.