JEFFERSON CITY — Glancing down the Rock Bridge bench late in the Bruins’ season-ending loss to Jefferson City on Monday night, there weren’t many sad faces. In fact, there were even a few smiles.
“It was a lot of fun playing,” senior Ashley Selby said. “That’s all I wanted to do was have fun. Of course I wanted to win, but as long as I played hard . . . and we all did.”
Although effort might count for something, it didn’t keep Rock Bridge’s season alive. The Lady Jays beat the Bruins 25-19, 25-15 at the Class 4 District 10 tournament. The Bruins finished at 9-15-3. The Lady Jays are 22-8-1.
Top-seeded Hickman (30-1) has a first-round bye and will face Camdenton at 5 tonight. Camdenton handed the Kewpies their only loss of the season Oct. 18 at the Eldon Tournament.
Bruins coach Vicki Reimler, in her last game as coach, even tried to remain positive afterwards. Reimler is retiring after 22 seasons so that she can focus on her responsibilities as athletic director.
“This team has had to struggle through almost as many adversities as any team I’ve ever had,” she said. “I think I will remember that they were battlers from the beginning of the season until the end.”
After the game ended, it took about 15 minutes for the reality of the loss to hit Reimler, and two small tears formed along the bottom of Reimler’s eyes.
“It’s been a fun ride for me,” she said. “And just now am I really kind of feeling emotions. The thought that it really is over . . . I hadn’t really allowed myself to think very much about that.”
The Bruins played Game 1 like they weren’t ready for Reimler’s career to end. Rock Bridge rallied from an 11-3 deficit to pull within 20-16 on Selby’s ace. Moments later, middle hitter Ashley Schulte made it 22-18 with a block. She led Rock Bridge with four kills.
With one of the Bruins most consistent servers, defensive specialist Amy Oakes, behind the serving line, Rock Bridge seemed to be in good shape. But Oakes couldn’t get her serve over, and three plays later, setter Juli Ronimous tipped over the winning point.
Rock Bridge had only two service errors in the match.
“I think that the couple serves that we did miss were the wrong time,” Oakes said.
Ronimous finished with a game-high 14 assists. Lady Jays’ middle hitter Corey Pritchett had nine kills.
Jefferson City never gave the Bruins a chance in the second game, opening up a 12-1 lead. The Bruins would get no closer than nine the rest of the way.
Reimler said she was pleased her team managed to keep it close.
“To battle back and not give up,” Reimler said. “I’m very proud that they stayed in there and kept playing hard. And I thought we made it a respectable game.”
Despite the loss, some of the younger Bruins are already looking forward to next season, even though Rock Bridge has yet to name a replacement for Reimler.
“I’m really excited,” said junior Katie Payne, an outside hitter. “I’m really excited to meet the new coach.”