The first major upset of the 2019 UIL State Volleyball tournament took place in the first match on the second day. Vanderbilt Industrial, at state for the second straight year (the only times the program has been to state), defeated a Bushland team that came into the tourney with an amazing 46-1 record and a top ranking they'd held the entire season.
It was easily the most competitive match so far at UIL as the match was point-for-point for five sets with Kelsey Vasquez and the Cobras (37-11) coming out on top, 3-2 (12-25, 25-21, 25-22, 15-25, 15-13).
Industrial, located in the Gulf Region, advances to Saturday's 3A state championship against the winner of Van Alstyne and Lexington.The match was competitive the whole way after Bushland won Set 1, 25-12.
"I just told the girls to calm down and relax," Vasquez stated afterward. "In Set 1, we had one kill and we made a bunch of errors. I told them we needed to start doing the little things right and to pass better."
They certainly did - although it wasn't easy as Bushland showed the power volleyball it displayed in winning 38 straight matches coming into the afternoon.
In fact, the Lady Falcons actually led 20-19 in Set 2 after an ace by Jaycee Adams. However, four unforced errors bookending a kill by Abigial Pfuhl (one kill, two blocks and one dig for the match) paved the way for a 5-1 set-ending scoring run and tied the match at 1-1 in sets.
The third set followed the same script - both teams using strong hitting and good passing to challenge each point. Ten times the score was tied until a couple of unforced errors and a kill by Maddison Stanush (four kills, two digs and three total blocks) gave the Cobras a 23-21 lead.
Kylann Griffith (match-high 27 kills to go with six assists, two blocks and 21 digs) then capped it off with a slam to give Industrial the set (25-22) a 2-1 lead in sets. Back came Jason Culpepper's Lady Falcons in Set 4. The trailed 12-9 but started chipping away, eventually taking an 18-14 lead on back-to-back aces from Ansley Sims (six kills,13 digs, 28 assists and three aces).
The Lady Falcons then finished the set on a 7-1 spurt and forced a fifth and deciding set.As expected, this one was competitive the full way. Tied at 8-8, the Cobras went on a 3-0 run that was immediately answered by a 3-0 run for Bushland. Tied at 12, Griffith hammered two more kills to put the Cobras on the edge of victory. After giving u a point, Griffith appropriately capped off the scoring with a back-row kill.
"We came out a little more confident today since we had played at state last year," said Industrial junior Lauren Williams, who totaled 22 assists, 18 digs, three total blocks and eight kills.
"We tried to relax after Coach told us to after losing the first set," teammate Rachel Spacek added. "We really wanted this. We did not want to lose this year. We came out and told each other we weren't going to lose."
Culpepper, in his first season as coach at Bushland after taking Randall High school to state five times (with one state title), was proud of his team.
"We had a meeting on the first day of practice and I could see these girls wanted to win," he stated. "I could see they not only wanted to learn volleyball but they were open to learning life lessons.
"We're here because of the hard work of the entire team. We scored the most wins in the program's history this year, although we fell just two wins short of where we wanted to be. I couldn't be prouder of this team."