VB State Tournament Day 1 Wrap: Round Top-Carmine, Crawford, Jewett Leon advance to title matches
The Water Valley Wildcats made their second straight trip to the UIL State Tournament on Wednesday afternoon at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland.
Coach Brenda Greebon's squad lost in the 1A state title match last year to Neches and were looking for revenge. But first-year head coach Caitie Carney and the Round Top-Carmine Cubettes stopped any plans WVHS had on playing in Thursday afternoon's 1A title game, coming back from a first-set loss and winning the next three (22-25, 25-18, 25-20, 26-24) to secure their spot in the 1A championship match.
RTC has a long history at the volleyball state tournament; this is the program's 21st overall appearance (tied for third in UIL history). The Cubettes are tied for fith with the most state titles in history, with six.They will shoot for Title No. 7 on Thursday against the defending champs, the Neches Tigers.
Round Top-Carmine actually led in Set 1, 11-7, but made a string of unforced errors that allowed Water Valley (31-13) to tie the set at 11. The two teams matched point-for-point before a 4-0 run by the Wildcats gave them a 23-19 lead and they closed it out for there.
The turning point for Carney's crew came in Set 2, when they Cubettes trailed 9-5.
"At that point our middle, (junior) Kelsey Lumbeck, got involved and stepped up our play. She was very instrumental in us coming back."
And come back they did, rolling off an overall 16-6 run to take a 21-15 lead. The Cubbettes then matched the 'Cats point-for-point to win Set 2.
After winning Set 3, RTC had a 24-20 lead in Set 4 and tried to close out the match.
However, Greebon's crew dug deep and eventually tied it at 24-all. But two unforced errors helped the Cubbettes win the match.
"We're aware of the long history our school has at (the state tournament)," Lunbeck said afteward. "We have moms, aunts and relatives in the community who played for those (previous) state teams. It's a lot of fun to share history with them."
Lunbeck slammed 11 kills and made two solo blocks in the win. Brooke Schobel led all hitters with 16 kills; she added three aces and nine digs. Kate Ellers dished out 41 assists for RTC and led the team with 18 digs.
The Wildcats were busy on defense as four players had double-digit dig counts. Bailey Dawson had 17 digs (she also had nine kills and two assists); Chesney Baker dug out 14 balls (she also had nine kills); Kalysta Minto-Holla made 14 digs (she added six kills, 15 assists and three aces to her totals); and, Emery Sears made 12 digs (she added two aces to her totals).
"These four seniors (Kendra Hoover, Baker, Greebon and Dawson) have laid a great foundation as we change the culture at Water Valley," coach Greebon explained. "It's all about working harder no matter what the score is; it's all about showing up and knowing you can lose on any given day. "I'm very proud of these young ladies; they played together, worked together and played as a team. They've had great careers."
Jewett Leon defeats Wink, advances to 2A State Title Match
The Jewett Leon Lady Cougars' volleyball program knows a little something about playing at the UIL State Tournament.
Jewett Leon volleyball teams have been to tournament a UIL-record 28 times, which includes this year's appearance at the state tourney in Garland.
Jessica Turner's squad battled Wink (a program that has 13 appearances at the state tournament itself) in the Class 2A state semifinals on Wednesday, The Lady Cougars survived a third-set loss and finished with a 3-1 victory (25-12, 25-23, 20-25, 25-6).
The loss finished Wink's season at 40-6 while the Lady Cougars improved to 41-6 overall.
Despite their long history at state, the Lady Cougars will enter Friday's 3 p.m. 2A state final as an underdog to top-ranked Crawford. Jewett Leon last won state in 2015.
The Lady Cougars lost to Crawford earlier this year in two sets (in a tournament hosted by Leon).
Turner is thrilled with the rematch.
"I'm ecstatic to get another shot at Crawford," she expressed. "We played them in our tournament; it wasn't our strongest game of the year (Cxrawford won 25-20, 25-23).
"Since then we've made some adjustments. We're ready. for the match (on Friday); I'm very grateful to get that opportunity."
In Set 3, Leon seemed on its way to an easy win as they jumped to an eventual 19-13 lead. However, Coach Heather Archibald's Lady ats launched on a 9-0 sc"oring run to take a 22-19 lead.
The Lady Cougars scored on a block to stop the run but Wink then scored the next five points to close out a 25-20 win and force a fourth set.
"It's good to get that reminder that we have to finish," Turner remarked. "It's a reminder we have to get back to playing how we know best, get back to playing good defense."
Sarah Grace Mary (18 digs, 12 kills), Tara Goolsby (20 assists, 19 digs) and Caroline Richmond (12 digs, 10 kills) all had double-doubles to lead the Lady Cougars. Grace made four blocks and served three aces; Richmond (two aces) and Goolsby (two aces) both had a block each.
Teammate Jordan Robinson chipped in with 19 assists, three kills, two blocks and an ace.Wink was led on offense by Jordan Dewberry with 12 kills, followed by Jonnah Smith with eight and Danni Akers with five; all three players had one block each. Dewberry also tallied 10 assists and eight digs; Smith had 12 digs while Kyndall Garduno had 12 assists, four digs and three total blocks.
Crawford set to face off with Jewett Leon in 2A State Title Match
Crawford volleyball head coach Jeff Coker is a "lifer" at the small Texas high school (enrollment 179 students).
But in the current decade he's made the Lady Pirates' program a force to be reckoned with at the UIL State Tournament, as they are in their fourth appearances at Garland in the last eight years.
In 2017, the Lady Pirates won their first-ever state championship with a three-set sweep of Iola.
In 2019, Coker and his crew will get a chance to win their second championship in three years after they held off Burton in four sets (25-12, 25-10, 22-25, 25-20).
Crawford improves to 48-4 and has won 45 of its lat 46 matches; Burton finishes a fine season at 34-15 overall.
The Panthers, trailing 2-0 in sets and 12-3 in Set 3, dug down deep and made a tremendous comeback. The launched a 10-2 scoring run in Set 3 to close within one (14-13) and matched points with Crawford for the next few.
With the set tied at 22-all, Kyndal Coufal slammed a kill to give Buron the lead.
They closed it out at 25-22. Crawford raced out to a 9-2 lead in Set 4 but Burton fought back yet again. Powered by short scoring spurts, they closed to within two, 21-19. But a match-closing 4-1 run sent Crawford to its second title match in three years.
"It was a great match," Coker stated. "They (Burton) gave us all we could handle and then some. They changed things up from when we played them earlier in the season; they played great defense tonight.
"But our senior leadership stepped in when we needed it and we were able to finish it out. Our seniors have the hearts of champions; they're great leaders and step up when they need to for the team."
Senior libero Peyton Elmore, who served an ace on match point, added, "Coach told us teams always play different when their season is on the line. They were brilliant as they fought us off; they pushed us hard. But we were able to gather ourselves and close it out."
Anne Williams hammered 17 kills for the winners; she added 13 digs, three total blocks, two aces and one assist. Lexi Moody dished out 45 assists and had 17 digs. Kaie Warden finished with 12 kills, while Elmore had two aces to go with 17 digs.
For Burton, Kyndal Coufal led all hitters with 20 kills; she also had four assists, 11 digs and two aces. Cheyanne Bluntson blasted 13 kills and made nine digs while Alex Countouriotis dished out 34 assists and made 7 digs.
"You always hate to lose no matter who is on the other side of the net," Burton coach Katie Keike declared. "These girls never gave up. After we lost the first two sets, I told them to go out, be themselves and relax.
"Being an underdog to the state's number one team is a fun place to be; you have nothing to lose. I'm really proud of six seniors (A'Zhane Graves, Allie Hohlt, Iabel Aguilar, Coufal, Bluntson and Countouriotis), they have laid a great foundation of winning for this program that will continue for many years."