El Dorado exorcized their demons against Buhler but came up on the short end against Circle in the Class 4A sub-state on Saturday. El Dorado’s season ends on the edge of the state tournament.

On Saturday afternoon at Circle High School, Alyssa Rawlings and the Wildcats took care of Buhler in three sets.

“Buhler match was pretty easy,” El Dorado head coach Alyssa Rawlings said. “I think we were actually looking forward to Circle. That’s who you had to go through to get to state.”

El Dorado was unable to take overcome a tough Circle squad as they fell in straight sets 25-15, 25-21 on Saturday afternoon at Circle High School.

Circle was waiting. It was a different feeling from the onset. The Wildcats were aggressive and were efficient with their serving. Senior Paiton Haga led the way in the first and third sets. El Dorado built a 4-1 lead to start the first set and a 4-0 lead off Haga’s serving. 

El Dorado led by as many as 18-10 in the first set before the Crusaders closed to make the set a challenge. They would close it out 25-17. 

Buhler answered back with a dominant set 25-10, where the Crusaders scored 11 straight points and had a run of 14-1 run to end the set.

In the past, that’s where probably El Dorado folds but this set of girls did not. Haga’s service game set them up with a 4-0 lead and it was a battle for the rest of the set. Buhler took a 9-8 lead off a net violation. El Dorado answered back with a kill form Carly Clennan, making the third and decisive set level. They went on a 5-0 run making it 18-13. They would push it out to 23-17 before back-to-back points gave the Crusaders a fighting chance. El Dorado closed out the match and advanced onto Circle. 

The match against Circle never materialized the way the Wildcats wanted. They could not win those big rally points and any time it felt they would make a move, it was Circle who was able to step up. 

“We really wanted to make sure we took advantage when Carley [Clennan] went to the bench or back line,” Circle volleyball head coach Michelle Nibarger said. 

Losing to Circle is nothing to shake your head at. The Wildcats led midway through the second set but a strong service game by Circle moved the Thunderbirds in front for good. 

El Dorado came within 21-20 after rolling off four straight points but Circle was able to close out the set. 

“We talk every day about overcoming matches like this and not to let it get us down,” Rawlings said. “We have a lot to build on going into next year.”

El Dorado finishes the season 19-19. It’s El Dorado’s most wins in a single season since 2017 when the Wildcats went 20-21 and an appearance at the state tournament.