The Blue Panthers fell to Byron-Bergen, 3-0, in the Section 5 Class C finals.
The Gananda girls volleyball team's 2013 season came to an end in the Section 5 Class C finals on Sunday. Top-seeded Byron-Bergen held off the No. 2 Blue Panthers 3-0 at Avon High School.
The game scores were 25-18, 26-24 and 25-23.
"I thought for a good part of the match we kept their serving under control and there were just a few places in all three sets where our serve receive got away from us," Gananda coach Joan DiRisio said. "That opened the door a little bit and they were able to pull ahead a little bit and we had a hard time coming back into it. I think the teams were evenly matched, I didn't think they were that much better than us. I think at opportune times, they got things done."
The two teams went back and forth in the first game until the Bees took a 14-13 lead. Byron-Bergen then pulled away to take the first game.
Gananda came out strong in the second game, jumping out to a 17-7 lead. Byron-Bergen slowly came back, but the Blue Panthers still got to game point at 24-22. The Bees won four-straight points to take the game.
The Blue Panthers led 15-9 in the third game, but the Bees again stormed back. Byron-Bergen tied the game at 22 and pulled away to seal the championship.
Bees outside hitter Brittany Merrell was named the Class C tournament's Most Valuable Player and teammates Abigail Kelley and Lauren Burke made the all-tournament team.
Blue Panthers senior Jenni Stearns and junior Peyton Wyjad also made the all-tournament team and DiRisio was named the Coach of the Year.
Stearns led Gananda with 12 kills and 13 digs, Wyjad added 22 assists and 14 digs, and Jessie Carder tallied 12 kills and 12 digs.
The Blue Panthers finished the year at 19-2.
"It's always tough to lose that last game," DiRisio said. "I tried to remind these girls of not what they didn't accomplish, but what they accomplished all season long. We were co-champions in Wayne County for the first time in four or five years. They had a 19-2 record, that's the best volleyball we've had in two or three years here. The best thing about it is they were a team from the start – from the first day of practice until the last time the ball touched the floor here."