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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.
Blum volleyball has been taking this season by storm en route to the UIL State Tournament. Battling every moment they have been on the court and working tirelessly in practice to maintain a level of dominance almost unlike any other in UIL Class 1A volleyball, the Lady Bobcats are so close to being state championss after a disappointing loss to eventual state champions Neches last season. Before the first serve is over the net, let's take a look at what fans can expect in this semifinal matchup!
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With an undefeated district record, the Lady Bobcats are on a 21-game win-streak headed into the UIL State Semifinals. The team has posted incredible wins this season- including in their playoff run. So far in the playoffs, Blum has posted nothing but shut-outs in an attempt to make it back to the State Finals. Knocking down Penelope, Abbott, Bryson, Hubbard, and most recently Veribest, the Lady Bobcats have shown that they did not come into this season willing to leave with anything less than a state title.
The Bobcats have shown incredible resiliency throughout the season with a defense that knows how to block and an offense that knows how to score early, often, and whenever necessary. The attack has been strong for the Lady Bobcats and fans can expect to see it remain strong through the state tournament.
Also undefeated in district play, the Lions are here to show that they are ready to face-off against a team like Blum. Making it through to the Regional Finals last year before falling to D'Hanis, Fayetteville wants this win with everything in them. The athlete to watch for Fayetteville is junior outside hitter Brooklyn Jaeger. Jaeger has tallied 995 kills this season and has remained a striking force for the Lions. With 89 aces, 45 blocks, and 454 digs, Jaeger has led the team in nearly every stat.
The Lions have a strong offense, but they also have a strong defense. Having lost only two matches the entire season, they are always ready to put up a fight- especially when the chance at becoming the state champion is on the line!
INCREDIBLE DEFENSE. Both defenses have been tough throughout the season and you shouldn't see this change- especially as they go head-to-head in a match that determines their fate of the season. Fayetteville has been consistently strong in every aspect of the game, but Blum might have a few tricks up their sleeves in order to pull out this state championship win!