Tyler Lee’s Season Ends With Dramatic, Five-Game Loss to Garland Naaman Forest
TERRELL -- The Tyler Lee Lady Raiders overcame a big deficit in the opening set of their Class 5A bi-district playoff match against Garland Naaman Forest, but couldn't rescue their season in the fifth and deciding match.
Lee rallied from an eight-point deficit to tie Naaman Forest late in Game 5, but never could get over the hump, dropping an 18-25, 25-23, 25-22, 22-25, 16-14 decision Tuesday night at Terrell ISD Athletic Complex.
The Lady Raiders, who finished third in District 12-5A, ended the season at 30-13. Naaman Forest (29-9) advances to the area round of the postseason where the Ranger Ladies meet McKinney Boyd later in the week.
"I think we were pretty evenly matched as far as ability, but we made more mistakes tonight," Lady Raiders coach Melissa Lee said. "We never gave up ... you can't take anything away from them; they did a great job."
Naaman Forest built a seemingly comfortable 12-4 lead in the fifth set, but Lee scored the game's next seven points and eventually tied the match, 14-14, thanks to a barrage of unforced errors by the Ranger Ladies.
The biggest point of the night followed when a long rally between the two teams finally ended when Naaman Forest setter Michelle Wright rescued a sure Lee point from the floor and tipped it up to Paxton Wade, who dropped it in an open space to give Naaman Forest match point at 15-14.
"That would've really helped us," Lee said. "I thought the ball was down, and they did a good job of getting it up. Their defense was good."
Wade, who finished with a team-high 15 kills, clinched the match on the very next point.
Naaman Forest also got 14 kills from Micayla Buckner and 11 from Sydney Werner. Wright and Micah Harding combined for 38 assists.
Lee was led by senior Mallory Kuechle's 18 kills. Alexis Crowder added 12 kills, while Melissa Menard posted a team-best 25 assists.
"She plays like that all the time," Lee said of Kuechle. "She plays 100 percent all the time. I hate it ended that way for these seniors, but they did all they could do."
The Lady Raiders found themselves down, 17-12, in the opening set only to reel off 12 consecutive points for a 24-17 lead. Six of Kuechle's 18 kills occurred during the crucial run.
Lee continued the momentum by scoring the first five points of Game 2, but the Ranger Ladies recovered to even the match, thanks to five kills from Buckner and three apiece from Werner, Wade and Katie McMillin.
Again the Lady Raiders started the third game strong, building an early 5-1 lead. But Naaman Forest scored nine of the next 10 to take control and eventually build a 2-1 advantage in the match.
Game 4 was the most closely contested of the match with neither team achieving a lead of more than five points. Crowder's three kills and several timely digs from Taylor Winchester helped the Lady Raiders force a decisive fifth set.
"You can't say that (we) could've done something else because (we) did all (we) could do," Lee said.