The Saint Jo Lady Panthers started their playoff run on Thursday against Perrin-Whitt at Chico High School.
Having skipped the bi-district, the Lady Panthers beat the Lady Pirates in four sets to win the area round and continue their season.
The first set saw Saint Jo come out smoking as it jumped out to a huge 12-3 lead thanks to some good serving and solid play early on as Perrin-Whitt looked out of sorts. Things did turn a bit as the Lady Pirates had their own run, winning five points in a row to cut the lead to 12-8.
Fortunately, that seemed to focus Saint Jo as the two teams played pretty competitively for the rest of the set. Both teams had their issues with shanking balls out of the field of play and other unforced errors. With the Lady Panthers huge lead though, Saint Jo easily won 25-17 to take an early lead.
The second set was more competitive throughout. Saint Jo was playing from behind for most of the set, but never more than three points. The score was tied at 20-20 as the set was coming down the stretch.
At the end it could have gone either way with the score tied 24-24, but Perrin-Whitt won the next two points to win the set 26-24 and tie the match.
The third set started close, but the Lady Panthers quickly pulled away to make the set another easy win. Up 8-7, Saint Jo won 12 of the next 15 points to go up double figures. Even with the Lady Pirates playing better to close the set, it was not enough to make up much ground. The Lady Panthers won 25-17 to take a set lead.
The fourth set was a must win for Perrin-Whitt if it wanted a chance to win in the fifth set. The Lady Pirates had a small lead early in the set and held a narrow 8-7 lead.
From there, Saint Jo went on another long run thanks to their serving. The Lady Panthers won nine of the next 10 points to take a 16-9 lead.
That seven point lead would prove to be the difference as the teams played even the rest of the way. The Lady Panthers won 25-18 to win the set and the match.
The win puts Saint Jo through to the regional quarterfinals for the third straight year. Like last year, the Lady Panthers will take on county neighbors Prairie Valley.
Saint Jo beat the Lady Bulldogs last year on its way to making the regional final for the first time in school history.
The two teams met back in August, where Prairie Valley got some revenge with a win in four sets at home. The teams will play at 6:30 p.m. at North Central Texas College on Nov. 12.
To read the full story, pick up a copy of the weekend edition of the Bowie News.