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The Lovejoy Leopards are no stranger to the biggest stage in UIL volleyball. In their 12th consecutive appearance in the state semifinals, Lovejoy is looking to advance to the finale on Saturday. Before they can do that, though, they must beat first-time qualifier Manvel. Let's take a look at the teams and what fans can expect in Friday's semifinal pairing.
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Last season, Lovejoy completed a perfect season- dropping no games and topping it all off with their eighth state title. This year, the Leopards are looking to add another state title notch to their belts as they head into the state semifinals on a 15-game win-streak. Despite finishing second in their district- just behind a very strong McKinney North team- Lovejoy has shown the strength and stamina they always have had on the court.
With six athletes signed to college program, the depth of talent is incredible for the Leopards. Pepperdine signee Rosemary Archer leads the team in kills with 392 while Baylor signee Averi Carlson leads the team in assists with 879 and aces with 69. Carlson is third in diggs (364) and is quite the presence on the court for the Leopards. With the drive and power to continue their excellence, fans should expect to see Lovejoy finish the tournament strong.
Manvel comes into the semifinals with a 22-game win-streak after posting a perfect district record (16-0). Showing incredible defense, the Mavericks have defeated the likes of Needville, Barbers Hill, Clear Creek, Deer Park, College Station, and more en route to the state tournament. Manvel is on a mission this season and is ready to put up a fight in order to get to where they want to be- the state finale.
The biggest threats on Manvel's team are Lyric Jordan, Devyn Lewis, and Mary-Kate Preston. While Jordan has tallied 399 kills and sits in the second-highest spot in kills for the team, Lewis has recorded 474 kills. The two are going to look to continue their scoring dominance on Friday morning against Lovejoy. Preston has posted 342 kills and 163 total blocks (144 of which are solo).
Head-to-head battle and back-to-back scoring. Fans can expect these teams to play top-notch volleyball as they go score-for-score throughout this match. Manvel is going to come in strong and ready to keep up with the likes of Lovejoy. Lovejoy has all the power, drive, and will to advance to the state finale, but it's not going to come without a fight.
After starting the season ranked in the top five for VYPE DFW's Top 10 1A-4A volleyball teams, the Gunter Tigers have more than proven that they belong playing on the biggest stage in Texas High School Volleyball. All season, the Tigers have battled to get to the UIL State Volleyball Tournament and on Thursday they face-off in a highly anticipated match against Lorena with the hopes of making it to the UIL State Championship finale. Before the first serve is over the net, VYPE DFW breaks down what fans should expect in this semi-final pairing.
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This season, the Lady Tigers posted a perfect district record (14-0). Going undefeated to finish in the first-place spot in their district, Gunter defeated the likes of Howe, Pottsboro, Blue Ridge, Bells and more. With a 36-7 overall record, the Lady Tigers have dropped only 19 sets all season. In fact, of their 36 wins this season, 34 have been shutout wins over their opponents.
Gunter has played incredible offense and defense all season. There shouldn't be a slowdown in the state semifinals and fans can expect them to continue to show their muscle on the court. With a strong defense backed by an offense who knows how to consistently score, the Tigers are ready to do whatever it takes to advance to the championship match.
The Lady Leopards have been showcasing amazing talent all season long. Posting an undefeated district record (14-0) to finish at the top of their district, Lorena can be expected to continue to show the defensive dominance that they have en route to the state tournament. Coming into the semifinals with a 19-game win-streak, the Leopards are looking to shut down the Tigers early and often in order to make it to the finals.
The Leopards have dealt 36 shutouts to their opponents this season. Lorena has what it takes to be a strong opponent and come out on top in this semifinals pairing. Fan can expect the Leopards to play with as much force as possible.
Once you get to this point of the season, it goes without saying that both teams want to win. A state title appearance is on the line in this match and both teams have fought hard all season to make it to this point. On paper, this should be Lorena's win, but because of that, Gunter is going to come in ready to fight tooth-and-nail in order to prove any naysayers wrong. It's going to be an intense battle from first serve to final point.