FLOWOOD – The Regents Lady Lions got their first playoff win in program history, but ultimately could not keep the magic going.
Regents defeated the Simpson Academy Lady Cougars 2-0 (25-20, 25-13) earlier in the afternoon in the first round of the MAIS Overall Tournament before falling to Jackson Prep 2-0 (25-16, 25-17) in their second round match following their win. In the MAIS Overall Tournament, the opening two rounds were played best two out of three instead of the normal best three out of five.
Regents vs. Simpson Academy
Regents (16-22 overall) started off slowly in their first match falling behind 8-2 in the first set before outscoring the Lady Cougars 23-12 for the remainder of the set and take a very important 1-0 lead in the best of three match. It didn’t help that earlier in the week, Lori Leigh Bray injured her ankle during a practice and it ultimately had an effect on how Regents head coach Kacie Hengler had to set her rotation up that helped cause the slow start.
“We just had a really slow start,” Hengler said, who just completed her first season as the head coach at Regents. “I had a very different rotation than we ever run. I was trying to give Lori Leigh a break. She hasn’t practiced all week since she rolled her ankle. I was going to ease her into the game thinking it’ll be fine. We were just in a panic mode.”
Although Bray was not as effective, Jamaya Fondren and Lauren Niemeyer were able to pick up the slack during their match against Simpson Academy. Regents led wire-to-wire in set two thanks to the Lady Lions’ service game and solid offensive performances from Fondren and Niemeyer. Bray also put down some key service aces herself while she was in the first match to put Simpson Academy (4-16) away.
Regents vs. Jackson Prep
In the second round match, the roles were flipped. It. was Regents who jumped out to an 8-4 lead on the Jackson Prep Lady Patriots, but it was the Lady Patriots who made a 21-8 run to win the first set. Ultimately, Regents was not able to handle the Jackson Prep attack as they were only able to muster eight kills in that match compared to the 25 kills in the Simpson Academy match.
“(Fondren) is a key player, so when she is on, we do really well,” Hengler said. “When she’s off, we struggled, and that’s what happened in the Jackson Prep (match). We had a lot of hitting errors out of the middle and that hurt us.”
Although it wasn’t due to serving errors that ended their service runs during the course of the match, Hengler thought her team’s service game could’ve been better to make the match closer against Jackson Prep (16-13).
“It was a good battle back and forth, they got all the serving runs and we just weren’t going on our normal serving runs. That’s usually one of our strengths. We have some tough servers and they would get a lucky side-out and that would ruin our momentum.”
In the two matches combined, Fondren led the Lady Lions with 12 kills, 11 digs, seven blocks and three service aces. Lauren Niemeyer added on nine kills, 11 digs, and five aces. Bray had four kills, 11 digs, and five aces. Maddie Niemeyer had a team-high 14 digs to lead Regents defensively. Sadie Smith and Myla Meurrier each had eight digs for Regents as well.