The North Platte Lady Bulldogs made an improbable comeback in the fourth set and nearly did it again in the deciding fifth set against Lexington on Tuesday. But ultimately, they fell short, losing to the Minutemaids at the Dawg House.

The scores were 19-25, 25-14, 25-22, 24-26, 17-15.

“Our youth really showed with Grace (Ryland), our only senior out,” NPHS Head Coach Shelly Byrn said. “We had some momentum and fight. We could’ve just laid down and gave it to them right there. We’ve got a hump to get over and we’ve got to get rid of the fear. When the game is on the line, they’ve got to want the ball. Every one of them.”

Lexington (3-11) had matchpoint in the fourth set with a 24-20 lead. But the Bulldogs chipped away with Trinity Vak serving. They tied it at 24 and then they got setpoint after Jaycee Burk made a kill on the left side. North Platte earned the right to play a fifth set when Kori McClain made a kill in the middle.

The Bulldogs carried the momentum early in the fifth set. The Minutemaids won the first point. But Burk got a kill to tie it up and Keke Williams made back-to-back kills on the left side to give NPHS a 3-1 lead.

But Williams hit the ball out of bounds on the next play. Abbi Sutton tied it for Lexington with an ace and she ran off six more points to put the Minutemaids in control with a 9-3 lead.

But Abby Kaminski answered with a run to get North Platte back in it. Then it was tied at 11 after Laikyn Seim hit the ball out.

Lexington scored the next point as Addison Uehling hit the ball into the net. Lexi Lantis got a kill to tie it back up. Seim got a block on the next play to make it 13-12. But Lantis made a block to tie it again and Sutton hit the ball out to give the Bulldogs matchpoint all of a sudden.

Lexington called timeout and then Vak reared back to make a jumpserve coming out of it. It fell short barely hitting the net and it was tied again.

The Minutemaids got another matchpoint when Kaminski hit it out. NPHS fought it off when Hadlie Wolf hit the ball into the net.

But Lexington had another chance to end it after Williams hit it out and they did on the next play with a block on their right side. Bulldog libero Callie McClain dove in attempt of making a save but she couldn’t get to it and the Minutemaids got the victory.

“That’s the hump I was talking about,” Byrn said. “We just didn’t make the plays we needed to.”

The match began with both teams battling in the first set. Neither team got much of a lead over the other for the majority of time.

North Platte took a 20-19 lead after a serving error by Lexington. Burk made a kill on the left side that bounced off the net and down to go up by two. Lantis made a block and Uehling served for an ace. The Bulldogs got setpoint with a kill by Lantis on the right side and they took the first when Uehling served one to Lexington’s frontcourt and it went down untouched.

NPHS fell apart in the second set. The Minutemaids ran off seven straight points with Wolf serving to take control with a 12-6 lead.

The Bulldogs had a chance in the third set despite committing four service errors but Lexington held them off at the end.

“We came out and played the way we should have and I just don’t know what happened for the next two sets,” Byrn said. “It was just ugly. Our serves hurt us. We’re usually a good serving team but not tonight. We just missed too many serves and we need to get that fixed. Right now, it’s mental. It’s not their ability, it’s mental.”

North Platte led 7-2 early in the fourth set but they couldn’t hold it and the Minutemaids looked to have it in hand with a 21-16 lead after they scored five points with Abri Reynosa serving before the Lady Dawgs showed tremendous resiliency and resolve to get the match to five sets.

“We’ve just got to find (what we had at the end of that fourth set more),” Byrn said. “I think it’s coming, or I hope it’s coming. They’re young and they’re learning. “

Next, the Bulldogs will play at the LPS Classic in Lincoln on Friday and Saturday.

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