The natural ebb and flow of a season can cause plenty of frustration for coaches and players alike.

The Cougarettes (12-7 overall) entered Saturday determined to advance to the silver bracket championship match, but Round Rock Westwood served as a roadblock during a 2-0 loss in the semifinals. Canyon then fell 2-1 in a spirited third-place match against Round Rock to cap its stay at Fraulein Volleyfest.

Head coach Heather Sanders’ team went 4-5 during the event, and while Saturday’s contests were filled with plenty of energy and effort, the execution wavered from time to time.

“We would make one play and then we would mess up the next one,” Sanders said. “We’ve got to get back on the same page again. We’re struggling to find that synergy right now.”

After opening Saturday’s silver bracket slate with a 25-21, 25-19 victory against Leander, the Cougarettes fell into an immediate 6-1 hole in the opening stages of their semifinal match with Westwood.

Canyon rallied thanks to blocks from Lauren Woitena and Angel Jones, and the duo of Kyla Malone and Haley Therien then helped their team tie the score at seven apiece. Westwood again pulled away at 15-10 only to see the Cougarettes come back thanks to key plays from Erin Jones, Angel Jones, Woitena, Matti Theurer and Allison Paveglio.

Canyon later pulled within one again at 22-21, but a service error allowed Westwood to clinch the game with a 3-0 run and vault ahead.

The trend continued in the next set, as the Cougarettes erased a 16-9 deficit and seized a 22-21 advantage following a Westwood miscue. However, an error committed by Canyon and a strong hit from Westwood’s Erin Fagan put the finishing touches on both a 25-23 triumph and a two-game sweep.

It was a similar story against Round Rock in the tournament finale. The Cougarettes dropped the opening set 25-19 only to summon their resolve and strike back for a convincing 25-16 win in the next game.

Canyon then sprinted to an 8-3 edge in the decisive third set, but Round Rock embarked on a 14-6 surge to turn the tables. Sanders’ squad attempted to once again close the gap late in the game and managed to cut the opposition’s lead to 24-23 following a block from Therien and a powerful hit by Woitena.

But moments later, Lauren Malone elevated for the match-clinching kill to help the Lady Dragons’ avenge an earlier loss at the hands of the Cougarettes.

“I think the frustration lies in the fact that we came out like gangbusters and played so well at the tournament last weekend that we won,” Sanders said after the Fraulein finale. “There’s that level of expectation, so when you’re struggling, people struggle to figure out why. We’ll get there.”

Canyon will get a few days off before returning to the court this Tuesday for a 7 p.m. non-district match against MacArthur in San Antonio. The Cougarettes are bound for Leander next weekend to take part in its annual Volleypalooza event.

NB wins final 2 matches

The Lady Unicorns may have fallen shy of Saturday’s goal — namely, a bronze bracket championship — but New Braunfels still capped the 43rd annual Fraulein Volleyfest in style.

Head coach Heather Sledge’s team absorbed a 25-22, 25-16 setback against Klein in the bronze bracket quarterfinals, but the Lady Unicorns (10-9 overall) recorded consecutive victories to claim the consolation title at New Braunfels Middle School. New Braunfels outdueled Antonian (25-22, 25-18) and San Antonio Johnson (25-12, 25-23) in back-to-back sweeps to finish its tournament stay with a record of 5-4.

“I thought we did some good things,” Sledge said. “Serve receive was on and we were able to run some offense. Overall, I thought we grew in some areas throughout the tournament and connections will be made. A lot of players stepped up and the younger girls are hungry.”

New Braunfels is slated to get back to business on Tuesday during a 7 p.m. road match at San Antonio Churchill. Following that non-district contest, the Lady Unicorns are set to travel to Spring Branch this coming weekend to take part in Smithson Valley’s Texas Showdown event.

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