BANNER DAY: Texas Panhandle volleyball flexes its muscle on regional Saturday
Randall, Hereford and Bushland all earned trips to the UIL state volleyball tournament in Garland on Saturday. [Ben Jenkins/ Press Pass Sports]
There’s no other way to describe what Texas Panhandle volleyball did during Saturday’s Region I finals across West Texas.
Randall, Hereford and Bushland not only punched tickets to the UIL state volleyball tournament in Garland but did in a commanding way.
Not one of the three teams dropped a set Saturday in their respective matches.
Between the three tradition rich volleyball powers, Randall, Hereford and Bushland have made a combined 20 state tournament appearances with 11 state volleyball championships.
Randall makes it a clean sweep of rival Amarillo High
Randall celebrates its Region I-5A championship. [Ben Jenkins/ Press Pass Sports]
In another match of Battle of Bell Street rivals, only this time playing at Lubbock Coronadocin the Region I-5A finals, the Randall Lady Raiders didn’t let Amarillo High find its charm in a third meeting.
Randall started fast and continued its torrid pace to breeze past its arch-rival, AHS (33-14), for a sixth straight time with a 25-16, 25-12, 25-16 victory.
The Lady Raiders (42-3 overall) are headed to
state for a second time in as many years, and a sixth time in program history.
“My heart is exploding right now,” said first-year coach Haleigh Burns, who had never won a playoff game before taking over at Randall. “ I’m proud of this team. They earned this. They’ve worked so hard, and it’s their mission to get back to state.”
The regional showed the grit in this Randall team. On Friday night, the Lady Raiders came within a point of being swept by Grapevine, but battled back to win the next three games. “It showed how much fight we had,” senior captain Zoe Parker said. “It shows we never give up and we proved it. This team believes and we’re ready to go back to state.”
Ford named MVP
Ford poses with regional MVP trophy. [Ben Jenkins/ Press Pass Sports]
Randall standout Brianna Ford was named tourney MVP, and for good reason.
The aggressive 6-foot-1 standout, knocked down 17 kills with 13 digs against AHS. Combined in the Regional Tournament, Ford totaled 34 kills with 29 digs.
“We looked at eachother Friday and we knew we weren’t going to lose,” Ford said. “We fought back and played hard and lived to fight another day. Saturday, we started a little slow but got it going. We all showed up today and we’re ready to go back to state.
Lady Whitefaces impress at regional tourney
Hereford celebrates its Region I-4A title. [Tess Stow/ For Press Pass Sports]
Not many fans expected Hereford to flat out dominate the Region I-4A Tournament in Abilene on Friday and Saturday, but that’s exactly what happened.
The Lady Whitefaces carried their momentum from beating No. 1 Argyle on Friday, to sweeping Krum (25-19, 25-21, 25-16).
The Lady Whitefaces (34-14) will make their eighth appearance at state and the first since winning a Class 5A state title in 2008.
Hereford never dropped a set against Argyle or Krum and swarmed both teams with strong defensive and timely passing.
It’s an awesome feeling,” said Catherine Beville, who is in her seventh season as coach at Hereford. “It’s hard to put into words. This team played so hard and it speaks volumes in what they were able to do. Our defense and passing were so good, I don’t think either team expected it. It shows the grit in ate team and these seniors.”
Senior Darcy Dodd and sophomore Taytum Stowe combined for 20 kills in the win. Stow led the way with 14.
For the tournament Stow totaled an impressive 30 kills with nine blocks.
Bushland is back
The Lady Falcons celebrate a point against Boyd during the Region I-3A Tournament final Saturday. [Ben Jenkins/ Press Pass Sports]
Since the doors at Bushland High School opened in 2005, all the volleyball program has done is win.
Bushland avenged a loss to Boyd in last years Region I-3A final, sweeping the Lady Jackets
25-22 26-24 25-15 at Lubbock Cooper.
In 14 years as a program, the Lady Falcons will make their eighth appearance at the state tournament and first since 2016.
Bushland has already won five state championships during those eight appearances. First-year coach Jason Culpepper, is also headed back to state for a second straight time, and a sixth time his coaching career.
Culpepper led Randall to five state tournaments, and won the 2009 Class 5A state championship in 12 years with the Lady Raiders.
“You’re not reinventing the wheel here at Bushland. “Culpepper said. “They’ve had a long standing tradition with great players and coaches. From day one to now this team has put in the time, they’ve put in the effot, and the next stop is state.”
Bushland is now an incredible 46-1 overall and has won 40 straight matches on the year.
Sims named MVP
Sims holds MVP trophy. [Ben Jenkins/ Press Pass Sports]
Ansley Sims was named tourney MVP. During Saturday’s win, Sims led the team with 18 assists, with a combined 42 assists for the tournament.