So much for showing any signs of nervousness on their first trip to the UIL State Tournament.
The Fulshear Chargers came out swinging early and often against Kennedale in their Class 4A state semifinal Thursday night at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland.When the dust settled, Sydney Gotcher's Charger had slammed 38 kills (an astounding average of almost 13 kills per set) as the swept the Wildcats, 3-0 (25-14, 25-1, 25-20).
The Chargers (44-4) advanced to Saturday's 1 p.m. state final matchup against Hereford. The Wildcats finished their season at 36-8.
Gotcher explained how her team refused to be nervous despite taking the court at the state tournament for the first time in the program's short three-year varsity history.
"We were in the locker room before the match and one of my players said, 'Hey, this is just another game,'" stated Gotcher, who opened the Fulshear volleyball program when the school opened four years ago. "When we talked in the huddle,before the match, we said that we need to act like this our court. We needed to act like this is the Fulshear home court and we have to protect our court.
"That mind-set keeps us grounded and kept us from any crazy nerves or anything when we took the court."
Match Point for @FULSHEARVB as they sweep #Kennedale 25-20 in Set 3 for a 3-0 victory. @FULSHEARVB will play #Hereford for 4A title on Saturday ..#AlexisDacosta slams her match-high 20th kill. @uiltexas @UIL_AD @AustinTGCA @jokoch09 @VYPEDFW @KennedaleISD @VYPE_Live @Gosset41 pic.twitter.com/3XVH6yaY2k
— KMACChuck (@KMACChuck) November 22, 2019
Leading by a 5-3 score in Set 1, the Chargers blasted five kills and opened up a 15-8 lead on a 10-5 scoring run. Two kills by sophomore Alexis Decosta (who finished the night with a match-high 20 kills along with three service aces, six digs and one block) and one by senior Shelby Tally (two digs and one kill) increased that lead to 20-12. Moments later, junior Ellie Echter (11 kills, 10 digs, two total blocks and three aces) slammed back-to-back kills to close out the first set for the Chargers.
Fulshear was even stronger in Set 2.
They slowly built up a 7-3 lead; moments later, senior Brooklyn Decosta (33 assists, four digs and two kills) dumped a ball into the middle of the Kennedale defense for an 11-4 lead. Kills by Echter, senior Jallie Rodriguez (two kills), and Tally and an ace by Alexis Decosta capped off an overall 14-4 run to push Fulshear's lead to 18-7. The Chargers cruised from there to an easy win in Set 2.
Kennedale, playing to keep its season alive, came out with some fire in Set 3. They kept it close early on, then - trailing 19-9 - launched a 9-3 rally to close the gap to 22-18. However, back came the offense for Fulshear; Echter had a quick-set kill, then Alexis Dacosta appropriately closed out the match with back-to-back kills.
"(Getting to state) was something we talked about when the school opened, and we knew we could do it," Gotcher explained. "All the kids love the game; they're obsessed with volleyball. I can't speak enough to how hard they work and how much they've earned this."
Other contributors to the Chargers' cause included sophomore libero Ava Underwood (17 digs, two aces and one assist) and junior Rebecca Ferrari (seven digs and three aces). The Chargers served up 11 total aces against just four service errors; they made 47 digs and totalled three team blocks.Kennedale was led by Madeline Pyles (12 kills and four digs), Bryley Steinhilber (five kills and six digs) and Lillian Rychlik (23 assists, two aces and eight digs).
MANSFIELD - At one point in the second half, if felt inevitable. It felt like the surprise upset of the second round was about to take place at Vernon Newsom Stadium as Stephenville erased a 35-21 halftime deficit to make it 42-42 heading into the fourth quarter.
But just like the duo had started the game, quarterback Bo Hogeboom and wide receiver Cole Kirkpatrick put the game on their collective shoulders and made sure no upset was to be had.
When it mattered the most, Argyle went to its bread (Hogeboom) and butter (Kirkpatrick) for three, fourth quarter touchdowns. When it was all said and done, Argyle escaped the Area Round with a 63-49 win after it forced Stephenville into a turnover on downs and an interception on its final two drives.
For the night, Hogeboom completed 26 of his 38 passes for 452 yards and eight touchdowns, connecting with Kirkpatrick 11 times for 286 yards and five scores.
Argyle finished with 635 yards of offense - the third highest output of the season and the seventh time it has scored 62 or more points in a game.
In Round 2 between these two, it was a stark contrast in final numbers as Stephenville finished with 459 yards on the night after only getting 199 yards in the first meeting.
Argyle will have to shore up its defense, though, if it wants to continue as undefeated state champs with a tough matchup in the next round either against either a Alvarado or Brownwood.