FALFURRIAS The Sharyland Pioneer Diamondbacks battled back and forth against the Corpus Christi Flour Bluff Hornets in their Region IV-5A quarterfinal playoff matchup, ultimately falling in four sets, 26-24, 25-20, 22-25, 25-19, on Tuesday at Falfurrias Junior High School.

Pioneer’s season comes to an end at 39-7 overall and 15-3 in district. Flour Bluff moves to 32-9 and advances to this weekend’s Region IV-5A tournament in San Antonio.

#10 Itzel Hernandez of Sharyland Pioneer spikes the ball past three Flour Bluff defenders in the Regional Quarterfinals played in Falfurrias, Texas. Photo by Jason Breeden-Special to the Monitor.

The Diamondbacks dropped the first two sets against the Hornets before rallying to take the third. Pioneer raced out to a 6-1 lead and held off Flour Bluff with sound defense.

“We tried to contain their offense as much as possible. I thought we played great defense,” Pioneer head coach Laura Cavazos said. “We let a couple slip away that will hurt a little bit, knowing that we let those balls drop, but I think, overall, they left it on the court and gave it all they got. They served aggressively. Our offense was still running pretty smoothly, so overall, I’m just really proud of their effort.”

#15 Ashley Stotz dinks the ball over three Sharyland Pioneer defenders in the final match of the Regional Quarterfinals. Photo by Jason Breeden-Special to the Monitor.

Pioneer was led offensively by Izabella Cano, Itzel Hernandez, Tera Schumacher, Scarlet Verjel and Aleena Zuniga. They hammered home several spikes across the first three sets, pushing Flour Bluff in Sets 1 and 2 despite finishing on the wrong end.

In the deciding fourth set, the Diamondbacks didn’t have enough to keep up with Flour Bluff’s Maggie Croft. Her play at the net, both offensively and defensively, came through time and time again when the Hornets needed an answer.

#10 Itzel Hernandez of Sharyland Pioneer is blocked by #11 Gabi Guerra and #2 Alyssa Thornton of Flour Bluff in Tuesday night’s Regional Quarterfinals match. Photo by Jason Breeden-Special to the Monitor.

This year’s Sharyland Pioneer squad set the program record in wins with 39 and returns 13 of 15 players next season.

“It’s a special team. We’re a young team, so I’m looking forward to the future and building on this,” Cavazos said. “I think they’ve learned a lot and have definitely come a long way from the beginning of the season. I’m going to think fondly of this team for sure. We set the school record for most wins and we won the area championship, so I think we’ve done a good job overall playing in a tough district, too.”

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