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In their fifth consecutive state tournament appearance (out of 6 total: 2017, '19, '20, '21, '22, '23), the Blum Lady Bobcats have added another state title to their resume. The team fought valiantly and finished strong to fend off a comeback from Harrold. VYPE DFW takes a look at the triumphant season:
Coming off of a high after winning the program's first state championship in 2022, the Blum Lady Bobcats went on a five-game win streak to begin their season with victories over Lorena (3-0), Blanco (2-0), Lumberton (2-0), Kaufman (2-0), and Godley (2-0). Continuing through non-district play, the team focused their efforts on getting better moment by moment in order to always stay prepared. With victories over Crowley, Midlothian Heritage, Celina (who is playing in the 4A Semifinals on Thursday evening), West, Stephenville, Peaster, and more, the team knew they had another special season in the makings.
Heading into district play led by top athletes like Kinsley McPherson, Addison Willingham, Emma Scott, Payden Sanders, Ruby Rumohr, and more, Blum defeated Morgan, Kopperl, Meridian, Hamilton, Covington, and others before posting a 7-1 district record to finish at the top spot in their district standings and head right into the playoffs.
Entering playoffs on a high note, the team posted shut-out victory after shut-out victory when facing their opponents. The Lady Bobcats defeated Savoy (3-0), Avery (3-0), Avalon (3-0), and Saint Jo (3-0) in order to punch their ticket to the biggest stage in Texas high school volleyball: the UIL State Tournament.
At the state tournament, Blum was able to secure two massive victories. First, in the UIL Class 1A Semifinals, Blum faced off against a tough Neches team (then 32-9). Winning 3-0 in sets (25-15, 25-15, 25-16), the Lady Bobcats let it be known that they were ready for any battle that would come their way and began preparing for the state title game.
During the state title game, the Lady Bobcats showcased tremendous talent on the court as they went toe-to-toe with Harrold (36-7) for the title. Set one saw a quick 25-12 victory while set two saw another strong 25-15 win. Determined to continue playing hard, the Lady Bobcats put up a battle but ultimately fell 25-19 in set three. Taking set four by storm, Blum secured a 25-13 win to close out their season with a second consecutive title.
Leading the team in kills was Addison Willingham with a total of 15 during the match. Not far behind was Emma Scott and Kinsley McPherson with 12 kills each. Willingham also recorded a .429 hitting percentage, one dig, four total blocks, and 17.5 points. Scott recorded a .500 hitting percentage with two total blocks and 13 points. McPherson recorded a .179 hitting percentage with 17 digs and 12 points. Leading the team in digs was Ruby Rumohr with 21 digs. Rumohr also scored 8 points for the team.
FB Marshall's Coach Lloyd Banks celebrates with team following State Championship
It’s no secret that Fort Bend Marshall Track & Field is one of the top-tier programs in the state, which was evidenced by their recent UIL championship, this past Spring.
2022-23 FB Marhsall Track & Field Justin Hartojo (VYPE)
With that logic, wouldn’t it make sense that the Buffs would have one of the best coaches around?
Coach Lloyd Banks was recently recognized by his peers in the Texas Track and Field Coaches Association (TTFCA) as the Class 5A Coach of the Year.
Despite getting the recognition, Banks remained modest in his response.
Photo provided by Lloyd Banks
“At the end of the day, we all have a hand in it,” said Banks. “I truly believe that I have one of the best coaching staffs in the nation, and I have a great group of kids to work with. So, I can’t take all of the credit. I put it all in their lap, because nothing moves without them.
“I’ll say it all the time, ‘I run my mouth, and they just run.’ When we’re successful, the guy who manages it gets the love, but I know better. We all have a hand in it, when it comes to developing our kids. Fortunately, I’ve been blessed with having so many successful athletes.”
Given how competitive the atmosphere is in the world of Texas high school T&F, how has Banks been able to maximize the potential of his athletes to a championship-caliber team?
“You’ll never be able to bank on your talent level every year because we’re in Texas -- it’s going to be difficult because everybody is talented,” he said. “The one thing I hang my hat on is that I have a tough group of kids.
“They’re resilient and dependable. When the lights come on, I know they won’t fold because we emphasize toughness over talent. I tell them having that mental 'will to win' weighs more than talent when it comes to winning a championship. They’ve bought into that, and they’ve been able to separate themselves that way.”
Of course, practicing day in and day out can weigh on a young student-athlete, which is something that Banks recognizes as a coach and an influencer.
“We keep it light -- we don’t take ourselves too seriously as far as practice goes,” Banks said. “We’ll be playing music, enjoying ourselves, laughing with each other. We have a good rapport with each other and that goes further than track.
“Coaching track is easy, but what’s important is that we develop better young men and women for the community and society. They lock in when they need to be, but I feel that joking, fun atmosphere is what helps to build relationships and make this program distinct.”
It’s no wonder that his athletes put so much faith in Banks. Expect that trend to continue as the Buffs gear up for another school year.