Randall celebrates after beating San Antonio Alamo Heights in a UIL Class 5A state semifinal Friday at the Culwell Center in Garland. [Matt Smith/ For Press Pass Sports]
The Randall Lady Raiders vowed if they were to get back to the University Interscholastic League state volleyball tournament, there wouldn’t be a repeat of last season.
Randall held true to those words.
The Lady Raiders made an emphatic statement by thumping San Antonio Alamo Heights (25-23, 25-22, 25-16) in a Class 5A semifinal at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland on Friday.
The Lady Raiders left the state tournament with a bitter taste in their mouth after a disappointing showing against Humble Kingwood Park in last years semifinal.
Randall erased that memory playing motivated volleyball, taking down the Lady Mules (35-10) in a little over an hour.
The Lady Raiders have won 25 straight matches, improving to 43-3 overall on the year, and will now face Lucas Lovejoy (47-5) for the state championship at 3 p.m. Saturday.
It’s the first time Randall will play for a state championship since it won the school’s lone title in 2009.
“This team was so motivated to be back here after last season,” Randall coach Haleigh Burns said. “We came out a nervous at first, but once we got our feet under us we played great. It was exciting.”
Randall coach Haleigh Burns cheers on her team Friday afternoon. [Matt Smith/ Press Pass Sports]
It’s been a dream ride for Burns, who is in her first season at Randall.
Burns spent four seasons at her Alma mater, Caprock, never making a postseason, before landing the new job over the summer.
When the Lady Raiders beat Abilene Cooper in the bidistrict round, it was the first gold ball for Burns in her career. Now she’s won a Region I-5A championship and will coach in a state title game.
“This has been amazing,” Burns said. “I’ve been fortunate to be at a place like Caprock. I love that school. Now, I love it at Randall, and I’m so thankful this team has bought into what I’m doing. It’s been so much fun.”
Randall never trailed Alamo Heights, seizing early momentum to take control of the match.
Senior Brianne Ford was her powerful self, tallying a team-high 19 kills.
Addison Norman stepped up by giving the Lady Mules fits at the net with eight blocks, adding six kills.
“We’ve had different players step up the entire postseason,” Burns said. “Addison has been one of them. She’s been awesome in the playoffs. Her blocking has been exceptional and she is doing a great job on offense.”
The senior duo of Peyton Irwin and Zoe Parker were keys defensively. Irwin finished with 10 digs, followed by Parker’s nine
Class 5A state semifinals
Randall def. Alamo Heights 25-23, 25-22, 25-16.
Records: Randall 43-3; Alamo Heights 35-10.
Kills: Brianna Ford 19; Addison Norman, Zoe Parker, Steve Reynecke, Kiar Parker, 6.
Blocks: Norman 8; K. Parker 4.
Digs: Peyton Irwin 10; Z. Parker 9.
Assists: Torryn Barrientos 20; Irwin 5.
Aces: Reynecke 2; Merritt Snell 2.
Kills: Kylie Wickley 12.
Blocks: Riley Mercer 2.
Digs: Mercer 11.
Assists: Ruby O’Brien 25.
Aces: Ella Sanders 2.