State Tournament Day 3 Top Performers
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The Texas University Interscholastic League (UIL) High School Volleyball State Tournament reached its third of four days of action on Friday in Garland, with five matches taking place during the day. On Friday, the fans present at the Curtis Culwell…
The Texas University Interscholastic League (UIL) High School Volleyball State Tournament reached its third of four days of action on Friday in Garland, with five matches taking place during the day.
On Friday, the fans present at the Curtis Culwell Center got to watch the crowning of Division 2A champions Iola, as well as the semifinals in Divisions 5A, which had Liberty Hill and Lovejoy as the winners, and 6A, where Grand Oaks and Cinco Ranch triumphed.
These were the players that helped tell the story of the second-to-last day of the 2023 State Tournament:
Iola returned to the top of the podium in Division 2A for the first time since 2020 and the fourth time overall with a 3-1 win over Crawford. Gooch was easily the Lady Bulldogs’ most important player in the match and was deservedely recognized as the Most Valuable Player. The outside hitter was tremendous offensively and her 28 kills accounted for more than half of her team’s production (49) and nearly matched Crawford’s total output (33). Gooch also led her team on the backcourt with 22 dig, the second-highest mark in the match.
Liberty Hill got strong contributions from all their starters to top a strong Colleyville Heritage team in four sets in the semifinals fo Division 5A, but Dirner stood out from the pack because of her higher efficiency. The senior outside hitter attempted the team’s second-highest mark of 31 swings and made just four errors, while converting ten of them – also the second-highest mark for the Panthers. Also a well-known beach prospect in Texas, Dirner used her all-around game to contribute to her team in other areas too, getting 13 digs, two blocks and one ace.
One of the top talents to emerge from Texas in recent years, Davis couldn’t take Colleyville Heritage to the title for a second straight year, but her outstanding performance against Liberty Hill couldn’t go unnoticed. Known for her offensive power, the junior outside hitter displayed a very complete and productive game in Garland, leading all scorers and nearing a triple-double with 24 kills, 14 assists and nine digs – she also got an ace and a block.
Lovejoy are one win away from their fourth state title in five seasons after they overcame Fulshear in straight sets in the Division 5A semifinals. With the two teams having similar offensive productions, Lovejoy’s stronger defensive presence ended up being the difference for the Lady Leopards and Brand had a central role in it. The senior libero produced 22 of the team’s 53 digs, the highest production among the players that got on the court, and also contributed three of the team’s eight aces.
Grand Oaks’ first trip to the Division 6A State Tournament started with a dramatic five-set win over Prosper in the semifinals, in a match where the Grizzlies came back from a two-set deficit to advance. The incredible turnaround had many protagonists as Grand Oaks had four players getting double digits in kills and Auguste was the one who needed the least attempts to do it, scoring in 14 of her 23 swings while also making just two errors. The senior middle blocker also contributed defensively at the net with a match-high six blocks.
Cinco Ranch will get a shot at winning their first Division 6A State Tournament title after a four-set victory over Harlan in the semifinals. Martinez was the focal point of the Cougars’ offense and responded well to the challenge, leading Cinco Ranch’s scoring efforts with 16 kills. The junior outside hitter was also the player to get the second-most digs in her side with 12 and also registered two aces and a block in an excellent all-around performance.