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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.
Lovejoy Softball players pose at the 2021 VYPE DFW baseball/softball photoshoot presented by Whataburger
Lovejoy athletics is no stranger to sending their athletes to the biggest stages in high school sports. Following suit, the Lady Leopards softball team has fought their way to the UIL Class 5A Region II Regional Finals- just two wins away from the UIL State Championship series.
Lovejoy has posted a 29-10-2 overall record so far on the season with a 73% win percentage. They have shown outstanding solidarity in their defense while outscoring their opponents by 154 runs on the season.
Finishing second in their district, just behind Prosper Rock Hill (13-1) who fell last week to Hallsville in the Regional Semi-Finals. Lovejoy is set to face Hallsville with a Regional Finals series beginning Wednesday evening.
Hallsville will be one of the toughest opponents the Lady Leopards have seen this season. With a 25-8-1 overall record (11-2 in their district with a second-place finish in their district), the Hallsville Lady Bobcats have outscored their opponents by 179 runs on the season. The two teams have seen many of the same opponents this season with Lovejoy posting more wins against common opponents than Hallsville.
The Lady Leopards defense will have to play smart from start to finish against the Hallsville bats who are likely to come out of the dugout swinging early.
Game 1 is set to begin on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. at Whitehouse High School.