Albriton Middle School girl’s volleyball team fell short on their quest to repeat as back-to-back champions.

At a filled Albriton Junior High School gym, Nov. 8, the lady Bulldogs faced off against the Gray’s Creek Middle School Lady Bruins in a best out of five game series to decide the championship.

Bulldogs stormed out of the gate taking game one 25-19. Early success faded and in the next three straight, the Bulldogs fell behind early and eventually dropped 16-25, 15-25 and 13 -25.

Even with Fabrizia Wade, the leading server contributing 8 service points, 1 ace, and 3 kills, the lady Bulldogs played from behind for most of the night. Bulldogs attacked at the net early, but that production dropped off considerably after team captain and lead Bulldog setter Sarah Velarde, was unable to return after the second match due to flu-like symptoms.

The Grays Creek lady Bruins setter and serving specialist Jessica Ware, 11, served 10 points with 5 aces throughout the night. With Ware’s success serving and team communication throughout the match, the Bruins were able to take control of play at the net and grind out three straight sets.

“It feels amazing tonight,” said Ware, 13. “We have really great teamwork. All of us work really well together.”

The Bulldogs head coach Kelly Melvin expressed her joy in working with this year’s team as one her favorite coaching experiences.

“We had a lot of returners this year along with several new girls that had a lot of experience,” said Melvin. “So we started this season off ahead of where we have in the past as far as experience. I pushed this team and they responded by having a great season.”

Bruins head coach Dawn Hoyt employed a three-point strategy during this game that she has emphasized all season to her team.

“Making sure that all serves make it over the net,” said Hoyt. “Serving at this age is one of the most important facets at this level.

Win or lose, Hoyt enjoyed the endeavor the journey of capping off a perfect season to 13-0 Bruins.

“I’ve been so fortunate to have an outstanding team,” said Hoyt. “The girls get along and we play together as team. Being coachable and having a great attitude has made all the difference in world.”