Henry Clay came up short in its attempt to play the giant-killer role in Saturday's State Volleyball Tournament at Valley High School.
Top-ranked Assumption eliminated the seventh-ranked Blue Devils in the semifinals 25-16, 25-15, 25-12.
"We fought hard. I can't complain too much about our effort, and we definitely pushed them," Henry Clay Coach Dale Grupe said. "We made them earn it — they never took their starters out against us."
Assumption went on to win the state championship Saturday night for its 17th title in the past 21 years. Assumption needed five sets to get past Mercy in the finals.
"I thought we played quite well," Grupe said of his Henry Clay squad. "But I think it's a matter of just that 'Assumption' on their uniforms — I think that earns them a lot of points against a lot of teams ... and I think it's within our heads a little bit."
Henry Clay opened the day with a 25-15, 15-25, 25-22, 25-15 quarterfinals victory over No. 25 Greenwood.
"I think we may have overlooked them a little. ... We did have a lot more errors this morning than normal, especially hitting errors," Grupe said. "But we fought through it, so I was really proud of them."
Junior Elle Barnett and sophomore Ca'Layci Coffey led Henry Clay with nine kills each against the Gators. Hallie Shelton and Emily McLendon added seven each.
A pair of Devils earned all-tournament honors: Natsuki Yamawaki and McLendon.
"I'm really proud of how my team played and how far we came," fellow senior Elizabeth Combs said. "We fought through so many hard times."
Shelton, an eighth-grader, led Henry Clay with eight kills against Assumption. Coffey had five.
Grupe's post-match message: "Just that we had an outstanding season and that we met pretty much all the goals that we wanted to. We wanted to get a few more victories along the way, but our goal at the beginning of the season was to compete against some of the best in the country and win our region and make it to the semis, where we could face Assumption and at least give them a fight. There wasn't a lot of crying at the end, and we fought."
Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Twitter: @markmaloneyhl. Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com