Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Regional volleyball playoffs: Pearce extends mastery of Rockwall-Heath to reach state tournament
GARLAND — In a match that began closer than its straight-set finish would suggest, Richardson Pearce defeated Rockwall-Heath, 27-25, 25-19, 25-15, on Saturday in the Class 4A Region II final to earn a spot in next week’s state tournament.
It was the third time the District 10-4A rivals faced each other this season, and Pearce accounted for Heath’s only two district losses. Pearce finished district play with a 14-0 record, and Saturday it eventually settled into a rhythm to defeat its rival for a third time.
Heath pulled out to a 14-8 lead in the first set, but Pearce fought back and eventually tied it at 23. Pearce gave up the lead only once after that, going on to win 27-25.
Pearce began the second set on a high note with a strong kill by senior middle blocker Shelby Sullivan. But Heath’s talented sophomore outside hitter, Regina Tillis, took the set into her own hands, keeping her team in it with three kills and a tough block within a matter of minutes. Heath tied the set at 18, but Pearce pulled ahead and won the second set, 25-19, on a kill by freshman setter Brianne Burkert.
Although his team took the court with a two-set lead, Pearce coach Jason Nicholson told his players before the third set that they need to “put their foot on the gas.” Nicholson’s team took his words to heart and dominated the third set.
— Joan Niesen
Class 5A Region I: In Abilene, Coppell swept Flower Mound Marcus, 25-20, 25-20, 25-15, to advance to the state tournament in San Marcos.
Coppell had three service aces in set one, including a crucial ace by Sarah Arnold that put Coppell ahead 22-19. Marcus could not find its rhythm on offense and committed costly errors that allowed Coppell to pull away late in the first two sets.
Chiaka Ogbogu and Megan Kennedy scored a combined 10 points in set three to put Marcus away and capture the Region I championship. Senior Lauren Douglass had 10 kills and five digs for Marcus.
— Brandon Tripp
Class 5A Region II: In Huntsville, Austin Westlake’s rich tradition couldn’t hold up against a red-hot McKinney Boyd squad, which swept into the school’s first state tournament with a 25-22, 25-23, 25-20 win in the Class 5A Region II championship match.
“This is something that these girls have dreamed about for a long time,” said Boyd coach Kelly Quinn, who has guided the Broncos since their inaugural season in 2006. “And I want them to live this dream, but I also want them to keep working point to point, because we have some more volleyball to play.”
Boyd (44-6) leaned on the right arm of junior Megan Mollett, who exploited one of the few Chap weaknesses for a match-high 21 kills. Mollett makes up for her 5-8 height with explosive leaps, and she had at least six kills in each set.
Senior Drew Darling fired 10 kills for Boyd.
— Thomas Jones
Class 3A Region II: At Texas A&M-Commerce, Stephen F. Austin signee Shannon Connell had 26 assists and five aces, and Iowa State signee Andie Malloy added 18 kills and 12 assists as three-time state champion Lovejoy (46-4) fended off District 11-3A rival Prosper, 25-17, 25-17, 25-19, in the Class 3A Region II final.
“I thought we came out strong,” Lovejoy coach Ryan Mitchell said. “In Game 2, when they pushed us, we stayed calm and ran off the last 10-plus points. I thought that was key to us taking control of the match.”
UT-Permian Basin signee Kelsey Zukowski had 18 assists, Fairfield signee Nicole Marzik and Meredith Bramer each added nine kills and Sarah Robertson had eight digs for Prosper (37-6), which was also swept by Lovejoy in the 2010 regional final.
— Rich Hilliard