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Nelms, Santa Fe end Nederland’s season

BAYTOWN — Volleyball might be a team sport, but Thursday night’s Class 5A Region III Area Round playoff at Lee College was decided by one player.

Her name was Keegan Nelms, and unfortunately for Nederland, she played for the Santa Fe Lady Indians.

The McNeese State commit guided Santa Fe to a three-game sweep over Nederland 25-20, 25-14 and 25-21. Nelms finished with an impressive 28 kills while Cayla Hockenbury had 29 assists for the Lady Indians (29-14). Santa Fe now faces either George Ranch or Kingwood Park.

Nederland ends its season at 26-13 after finishing in second place out of District 22-5A.

“She [Nelms] made the difference,” Nederland coach Kristin Lemoine said. “You have to give it to her because she is good. She knows the game and knows the spots. We couldn’t stop her. She has a great coach (Anna Marie Milligan) and she is a great player.”

Also, give the Lady Bulldogs a lot of credit for never backing down even until the end.

Nederland never led in the match until the start of the third set. The Lady Bulldogs were able to build a 7-4 lead before the Lady Indians went up 9-8 and never trailed again.

Emma Forsythe led Nederland with 15 assists while Courtney Noel and Marlie Lee each had eight kills. Abbey Montalvo finished with eight assists and Payton Swanson added 12 digs.

The first set was the Nelms and Hockenbury show.

Santa Fe’s assist and kills duo hooked up for 12 points. Nelms was able to find the floor on the Nederland side of the court, no matter where she took off from. She had kills from the front row and the back.

The set stayed close throughout as Nederland got five kills from Lee in the first and three from Noel.

Nederland had 12 hitting errors in the first set compared to eight for Santa Fe.

Nelms added eight more kills in the second set.

The Lady Bulldogs cut down the errors to eight in the set but could not overcome the hitting of Nelms and the Lady Indians.

Nelms put Santa Fe on her back from serve late in the second as she connected on four straight service points to give the Lady Indians a comfortable 22-11 lead.

“I am so proud of this team,” Lemoine said. “We went farther than we did last year and that was our goal. Next year is to get even farther to keep improving each year.

“These six seniors are a hard group to lose. The best thing about them is they taught our younger girls so much. They are taking their knowledge and embedding it into them.”

Nederland loses Forsythe, Caroline and Courtney Noel, Swanson, Lee and Tatum Kieschnick to graduation.

About Gabriel Pruett

Gabriel Pruett has worked with both the Port Arthur News and Orange Leader since 2000. A majority of the time has been spent covering all aspects of Southeast Texas high school sports. Pruett's claim to fame is...being able to write his own biographical information for this website.

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