"They worked hard," head coach Paula Brown said about the Lady Owls' effort. "We want to take the positives from this game, and this season, and move forward."
Marshall got ahead early in both sets, jumping out to an 8-3 lead in the first one and maintaining it on a pair of blocks and a kill by junior Karson Heying.
"It's been a goal for us to get the lead and keep that lead," Brown said. "That's something we weren't able to do."
However, the Lady Owls' offense wasn't able to maintain consistency through different rotations, especially without Heying on the front row. That's when the Lady Bulldogs went on a 10-1 run, senior Ashley Fickes scoring three times, to pull ahead, 23-18.
"That's what volleyball is all about, is momentum," Brown said. "That high level of intensity can help you, and it can swing in a matter of points."
Odessa finally missed a shot, senior Jashawna Terry's return dropped in and two attack errors got the Lady Owls back within a point. Fickes struck from the middle, but junior Analee Tucker got the sideout for Marshall and a misfire evened the score.
The Lady Bulldogs claimed the game when senior Morgan Whitlock spiked and teamed up with junior Allison Pollakowski got a set-ending block.
Two Heying shots and Tucker's ace got the Lady Owls off to a 4-0 start in the second frame. Senior Morgan Weibel's two hits kept the Lady 'Dogs close, but a pair of missed shots, double-touch and an ace from freshman Abbie Lemmons allowed Marshall to stay in front at 12-7.
Odessa staged another rally, winning eight of the next nine points, the last three on blocks by sophomore Makayla Lange. Waibel found the floor three times to put Odessa up, 21-16, the only shots made by the Lady Owls during a 14-4 stretch coming from Heying.
Marshall only had two runs as long as four points, neither when trailing.
"If we could have pulled that two- or three-point to a seven- or eight-point lead, that would have made all the difference," Brown observed. "When you get a team down, it's smooth sailing from there."
After a timeout, Lemmons connected, but the Lady Bulldogs shifted from attacking the middle to driving into Marshall block attempts from the outside. Waibel scored once by pounding straight into defenders and Whitlock did it twice -- including on match point.
"They had hard angles that they used," Brown said. "We just weren't able to defend it like we should have been."
Of Odessa's 30 kills, 29 were split between four players - Waibel and Fickes leading with eight each. The Lady Bulldogs (14-14-1) was beaten for the championship, 25-15, 25-12, by top-seeded Grain Valley - which advances to Saturday's four-team sectional at St. Pius X in Kansas City.
The Lady Owls (12-17-3) were led by Heying's nine kills and five from Lemmons. Seniors Rachel Brown and Jasmine Tapia each came up with five digs and senior Jawshawna Terry provided seven assists and two blocks.
Marshall improved by three wins from a year ago during Brown's first season as head coach, and seven of its 10 main players were underclassmen.
"The group of girls we have right now are hard workers and I know they're going to put in the time in the off-season," Brown remarked. "They've got that taste of winning.
"We're trying to build our program," she added. "This team this year was our first step to building our program."