ROCHESTER | Wheeler’s volleyball team couldn’t capture the fifth-game magic it had a year ago against Rochester.
The Class 2A No. 5 Bearcats had three match points in the fifth game but could not convert on any of them, and the No. 7 Zebras rallied to win the fifth game 18-16 and take the match 22-25, 27-25, 25-13, 21-25, 18-16 in the regional championship on Tuesday.
“It’s tough,” Wheeler coach Alisha Polite said. “It’s a tough loss. We knew coming in we were going to have to battle. We knew it was going to be the same thing as last year.”
A kill by Shannon Doyle put the Bearcats (31-6) ahead 14-12 in the decisive game, but the Zebras won back-to-back points on a kill and ace from Caitlyn Patterson. Doyle put Wheeler up 15-14, but Rochester scored four of the final five points to win. Katlyn Sawyer had back-to-back kills to close out the match.
Sawyer finished with 34 kills to lead the Zebras (30-8).
The Bearcats took the opening game 25-22. Jordynn Parks, who finished with a team-high 18 kills, tallied three kills and two aces in the match.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better showing from her,” Polite said of the freshman Parks. “She came out and showed everybody that she will be back.”
Rochester led the whole way in game two until the Bearcats rattled off five consecutive points to take a 25-24 lead. The Zebras responded with three consecutive points to take the game, with the final two coming on Sawyer kills.
Wheeler tied the match at 2-2 by taking the fourth game 25-21. Haley Plothow had seven kills in the game, including the last two points. Parks had four kills in the game, and Doyle added two and a block.
Plothow finished with 16 kills and 14 digs, and Belle Bravo had 30 assists for the Bearcats.
Wheeler graduates eight seniors from the squad.
“They have set the standard high,” Polite said.