Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Lovejoy wins fourth straight 3A state volleyball title
A senior setter helped the Leopards pull off the final win in the 3-2 match
SAN MARCOS — It couldn’t have ended any more perfectly for Andie Malloy.
In game five of Lovejoy’s 3-2 win over Abilene Wylie in the 3A state championship game, the senior setter took matters into her own hands, recording four of her team’s last five points on powerful kills.
It was a standout performance, though it was nothing she hasn’t done before. But as that last kill landed on the court, Malloy made history. With the win, Lovejoy became the first-ever 3A team to win four consecutive state championships, and Malloy is the one Leopard who’s been on the court for each of those wins.
“She took the program on her back and led,” Lovejoy coach Ryan Mitchell said of the senior, who was also named the game’s MVP.
Lovejoy, which struggled with blocking throughout the match, won game one, 25-20, without ever pulling ahead to a convincing lead. Wylie never let Lovejoy get ahead in the second game and won 25-18 to even the match at 1-1.
In game three, Lovejoy took an early 9-5 lead and never looked back, winning 25-14 behind good offensive play from Malloy, Mallorie Puckett and Nicole Newton. But the Leopards couldn’t capitalize on that momentum and lost game four, 25-23.
“They [Wylie] weren’t scared of the name on our back, and they were set on making history themselves,” Mitchell said.
Where the previous game was close, the fifth was Lovejoy all the way. Malloy and her teammates were able to step up when it counted, despite their star middle blocker, Ebony Nwanebu, being relegated to the bench.
“I think it speaks to our depth, and I think it speaks to the character of the girls,” Mitchell said. “When a hard decision’s made, they’ve got their coach’s back.”
It’s that sense of team that got Lovejoy to where it is today, and in the end, playing without Nwanebu did nothing but make the win a little more interesting for the four-time champions.