For the second year in a row, the Wagoner Lady Bulldogs have come up one game short of advancing to the 4A State Volleyball Tournament after falling in the Regional finals.
This year, their path to State traveled through Yukon where a 3-0 loss to host school Southwest Covenant on Oct. 3 ended their season. But it wasn’t before the Lady Bulldogs made school history by recording their 21st game of the season over Harding Charter Prep.
Wagoner went into Regionals as the number two seed. Coaches knew if the girls showed up to play in their first match, an appearance in the finals would be assured.
And show up they did. In their tournament opener with Harding Charter Prep, the Lady Tigers swept the Lady Eagles 3-0, with set scores of 25-23, 25-10 and 25-14.
Marlee Medlin recorded 11 kills, two aces and three digs while Megan Hawkins had 20 assists,, two aces and two digs. Mary Kate Bobo had seven aces and nine digs.
“We didn’t have film or anything on Harding going into the game. We just kind of watched them warm up and in the first set we made adjustments,” Penner said. “Harding is a scrappy team that kept the ball in play.”
Wagoner dominated the second set and carried that momentum through the rest of the game.
“Mary Bobo played extremely well tonight!” Penner exclaimed after the tournament. “She played very solid all around and had seven aces in just one match.”
Thursday’s finals match with host team Southwest Covenant was intense from the start. The Lady Bulldogs lost 3-0 with set scores of 14-25, 18-25 and 23-25.
“We told the girls going into the game they have nothing to lose — to just go out, play hard and believe in themselves. And they did!” Penner exclaimed. “There were a few points in that first set that would have gone our way had we been playing as hard as we did in the third set. The first set was closer than the score appeared.”
Southwest Covenant was playing with additional emotion as one of their players set a school record for recording 1,000 kills during her high school career. Penner said she has never seen a high school athlete attain that achievement.
Prior to the game, the Lady Bulldogs presented a card to the Southwest Covenant team to honor one of their classmates, a football player who died last week. They also wore ribbons of Southwest Covenant’s school colors in their hair.
“We are a close knit team, and they have done some things to serve others both on and off the court that make me proud,” Penner said. “Athletically, they played as a team. We didn’t have just one standout, it was always a team effort. And our bench players stepped up as well.”
Against Southwest Covenant, Marlee Medlin had 13 kills, two aces and six digs. Megan Hawkins had 15 assists and Mary Kate Bobo had 13 digs and one ace.
“We thanked the girls in the locker room after the game for their dedication to volleyball and for taking our program to a new level. Alyssa Armstrong became our first All-State volleyball player last year, then this group got 21 wins,” Penner noted. “People will start noticing Wagoner Volleyball as being competitive. It seems like each year we raise the bar a little higher.”
Earlier in week, the Wagoner Volleyball program celebrated Senior Night with a 3-1 win over Inola.
“It was a great atmosphere and we had a lot of fans there,” Penner said. “It was an honor for me and very special to honor those seven seniors.”
Honored along with their parents were Cheyenne Belvin, Evanne Biby, Mary Bobo, Hailey Freeman, Megan Hawkins, Kyky Swanson and Kennedy Winn.