DECATUR — It took the St. Teresa volleyball team a few points, but the Bulldogs got back to being themselves in the Class 1A state volleyball third-place game on Saturday.
The Bulldogs beat Grayville 25-20, 25-15 to take third-place — the best finish for St. Teresa volleyball in school history.
"They worked really hard and came a long way," St. Teresa coach Brad Dalton said. "They were playing their best volleyball at the end of the season."
St. Teresa (29-11), which lost to Hartsburg-Emden 25-17, 25-14 in the state semifinals, trailed Grayville 8-5 after back-to-back hitting errors in the first set. But the Bulldogs scored 13 of the next 14 points to go ahead 18-9. Grayville (27-11) scored some late points to make it close, but was never really competitive with St. Teresa after the start.
"We were slow starting," Dalton said. "But about halfway through the first set, we started making some good plays. They relaxed and started enjoying themselves and ran away with the first set.
"We had a couple mistakes late that allowed them to get close, but I didn't even use a time-out, and they were able to put it away."
St. T won the second set easily, looking much more like the team that beat Windsor/Stewardson-Strasburg in the sectional finals than the team that lost to Hartsburg-Emden in the state semifinals the day before.
"They hadn't been there before and were a little too amped up, then our libero (Grace Buxton) got hurt," Dalton said. "And it was a little easier to find rhythm. There was a lot of pressure coming from the other side of the net yesterday."
Buxton didn't play on Saturday, but every other St. Teresa player got in the game. The Bulldogs were led by Caleigh Craft with six kills, Abby Robinson with 11 digs and Cami Lobb with 17 assists.
"Our setter did a great job of moving the ball around to different hitters — we were making them guess and they were struggling to close out blocks," Dalton said. "It's always a goal to get people in if we can. Everybody on our roster played this weekend and have memories of playing on that floor."