Written by SportsDayDFW.com
UIL state volleyball preview: Rally bumped Coppell over the hump
Stirring comeback in regional quarterfinals solidified chemistry
Coppell volleyball coach Julie Green didn’t need to step into the huddle.
After Coppell’s second-set loss to Hebron on Nov. 8, the Cowgirls were down 2-0, one set away from elimination in the regional quarterfinals.
Many teams would be exasperated, discouraged — but not Coppell.
“They supported each other and took care of each other to get back out there and compete,” Green said.
Just listening to teammates talk about what they needed to do in the third set was enough for Green to realize her girls were far from giving up.
Despite that mentality, Coppell had a large obstacle to overcome. The Cowgirls had yet to be come back from a 2-0 deficit all season, and they were facing the reigning Class 5A state champions who eliminated them in the bi-district round last season.
Pushed within a point of elimination that Tuesday night — Coppell eventually won the third set, 28-26 — the Cowgirls are now one of four area teams headed to the state tournament. Coppell will face San Antonio Johnson (44-6) at 7 p.m. Friday.
Coppell (40-8) is accustomed to being something of an underdog despite being one of the top 5A teams in the area. The Cowgirls play in District 7-5A, the same as Southlake Carroll, a team they were unable to beat in the regular season.
But in the playoffs, Coppell has emerged from Carroll’s shadow, defeating Flower Mound, Colleyville Heritage, Hebron, Arlington and Flower Mound Marcus. It’s been anything but an easy road to the final four.
Green attributed the team’s big comeback over Hebron and its success this season to the players’ tenacity.
They’re self-motivated, she said, and they also peaked at the correct time.
“For us, it’s just that we want to be playing our best ball right now,” Green said. “I think we are.”
Sometimes that’s all it takes — the right timing, a quick switch in momentum — to win a game. But Green thinks her team has more than that.
After beating Hebron, she said she knew her girls had a chance for a long playoff run.
Coppell had what it took to win that last point and rebound, and that memory will stand out in players’ minds throughout the state tournament.
No matter how bad a match gets, they will have been there, and they’ll know they’ve bounced back once before.
TEAMS TO WATCH
District 10-5A champion McKinney Boyd (44-6) is the other area 5A team headed to San Marcos for the state semifinals. Boyd had a somewhat easier run to the state tournament, beating four of its five playoff opponents in straight sets. Its closest match was a 3-1 win over Georgetown last Friday.
Junior middle blocker Megan Mollet and senior outside hitter Drew Darling lead the Lady Broncos’ offense. Junior setter Brantlee Reid and junior outside hitter Kaley Seaber have both put up impressive numbers this season as well.
Boyd will face Houston Cypress Falls (40-7) at 5 p.m. Friday. Cypress Falls was the runner-up in District 17-5A behind Houston Cy-Woods, which it defeated Saturday to earn a spot in the state semifinals.
Richardson Pearce (35-13) enters the state semifinals coming off a decisive 3-0 win over District 10-4A rival Rockwall-Heath on Saturday. Pearce has not lost a match since Aug. 30, when 3A defending champion Lovejoy defeated the Mustangs, 3-1.
Pearce looked strong at the net in the regional finals behind senior middle blocker Shelby Sullivan. The team returns to the state semifinals for the third straight year, and it’s lost in that round the past two seasons. Last year, eventual state champion Austin Lake Travis defeated Pearce, 3-2, to knock it out of the playoffs, and if both Pearce and Lake Travis win Friday, they’ll face each other again in this year’s finals.
Pearce must first get past Canyon Randall (42-4), which won the tournament two years ago, at 5 p.m. Thursday.
Three-time defending 3A champion Lovejoy (46-4) returns to the state semifinals yet again as the most favored area team. Coach Ryan Mitchell is aiming for a fourth title in as many years in what is most likely the Leopards’ last hurrah before moving up to 4A.
Lovejoy’s four losses have been against 5A and 4A teams. It’s won all of its playoff matches in straight sets and hasn’t lost a set since Oct. 7 against Prosper. Led by senior setter Andie Malloy and junior outside hitter Ebony Nwanebu, the Leopards will be a formidable opponent in the tournament.
They will play in the semifinals at 1 p.m. Friday against Sinton (30-10).