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'Stangs go out with senior rate

By Neil H. Devlin, Mullen Sports Information Director
Mullen gets swept by high-end Cherokee Trail on Tuesday, but honors its 4 seniors and still has a chance to hit the .500 mark with a victory on Wednesday at Grandview.
Tuesday night was about the Mullen seniors, who played their final match at Hutchison Fieldhouse.

As the Mustangs said thanks to Isabelle Desjardins, Caroline Harmon, Kiley Lawrence and Jessica Oates-Stamm, they dipped below .500 with one match to go in this new Season C by dropping a 25-15, 25-14, 25-10 sweep to a very good Grandview in the Centennial League.

Now 6-7, it’s all but assured the Mustangs won’t play in the 24-team Class 4A postseason and the 5A Wolves, who improved to 12-1 and are tied for the league lead, definitely will.

Hence, it was more of the same for Mullen, a younger team that has been forced to learn on the fly throughout 2021. The Mustangs, with seven freshmen and sophomores on their roster, have had trouble dealing with the top end of the Centennial, which figures to do very well once the big-school postseason begins next week.

Still, head coach Jeff Oliver said, “it was a nice night for the seniors. They all started the first set ... Cherokee Trail is a really good team and that one girl (Amaya Messier, who will play beach volleyball at Utah) is very good, she’s a really good player.

“I liked our fight early. I wished we competed better at the end of these games … it happens. It’s a learning thing for us.”

The familiar pattern remained relevant as the Mustangs hung around their foe, flirted with the lead, then fell back.

Lawrence, who started at front-middle, said of her final night: “it was good, a surreal feeling for sure, getting into the gym as a freshman and now leaving. It went so fast.”

Having the season switched from fall to the end of winter and beginning of spring as a senior, she said, was difficult “as everything was thrown off. I mean it wasn’t like a typical season, not coming in off summer practice. There was a big lull and we didn’t start the season with all of our players.”

The thing is, Mullen can successfully cap its unusual campaign with mostly underclassmen with a victory in its finale, Wednesday, April 21, at Grandview in Aurora, 6:30 p.m.

“It would be great to win and get to .500,” Oliver said.

If it doesn’t happen, Lawrence, said, it won’t be for lack of effort.

“We’re going to give it our all and go for the win,” she said.