Schulenburg falls in state final to Brock
GARLAND - Unable to stay in sync offensively for any significant scoring runs, Schulenburg couldn't keep up with Brock in Saturday's Class 2A final at the UIL state volleyball tournament, played at Curtis Culwell Center.
Only twice in the 3-0 Lady Eagle sweep did the Lady Horns manage four straight points.
Individually, the kill leaders' totals were significantly down from the norm for the Lady Horns - Sarah Walker, eight, and India Connor and Bay Guentert, six each.
"No. 1, Brock's a great team," Schulenburg head coach Donald Zapalac said. "They only had three losses all year. There's a reason for that. They kept us off balance and our passing wasn't where we needed it to be. We had (setter) Shannon (Mikesky) running all over the court most of the day. That was also tough serving on their part. We just weren't able to get the kills that we normally have. In our minds, yes, it was a bad day for us but Brock contributed to that."
The Lady Eagles (45-3) never trailed past the midway point of any set except at 15-16 in Game 3. They reeled off six straight points to regain control with the run aided by three Lady Horn hitting errors. Brock's only shortfall of the 25-17, 25-20, 25-19 match was seven service errors but Schulenburg gave them back plus one. The Lady Eagles also made up for it with six aces, versus four for the Lady Horns.
"The girls came in extremely confident," Brock head coach Keith Guyon said. "We knew Schulenburg's setter is awesome and they have really good middles. We wanted to jump with her any time she was at the net. We knew she'd get some kills and their middles would get kills. The game plan going in was to move the ball around and keep them off balance and the girls did a great job."
Braylee Flaska registered four of her match-high 13 kills in the first set for Brock, which never trailed after the score was 5-all. She added four more in game two, during which Schulenburg had its largest leads of the match. But those came at 2-0 and 3-1. After a Connor kill knotted the set at 11-11, the Lady Eagles went on an 8-2 run. During that stretch, Amy Henard had three kills.
The Lady Horns again had a 3-1 lead to start Game 3 and kept it close a little longer. They finally had a stretch where they got the ball to their strength, quick sets in the middle. Walker had three emphatic kills in a four-point run to put Schulenburg up 10-9. Flaska answered with a trio of kills prior to Brock's final run, which culminated in Bailey Snow's ace for the 25th point.
Henard, who finished with 11 kills, 16 assists, and nine digs, was named the 2A tournament MVP by the media.
"It's a dream come true," Guyon said. "A state championship was the goal this year. I told them, 'Go fulfill your dreams today.' Match point had to be the most special moment today. But it's really about the relationships, the kids, the memories we'll have forever."
Although one win shy of its goal, Schulenburg still had a historic season with its first state tournament appearance in volleyball (the girls' basketball team reached state in 2003 and lost in the semifinals to, yes, Brock).
"It was a great season, a great group of young ladies," Zapalac said. "I couldn't be any prouder of this group."
He had words of praise for the Lady Horns' lone senior, Connor, for her improvement over four years as well as her contributions as a middle blocker and a leader. She was part of teams that made it to the Region IV tournament two straight years before the state berth.
"I'm really happy that we came this far," Connor said. "This was the best season ever. After we made it to regional, it prepared us for the next year and we just kept building on it."
"I think now we know what it takes to make it this far," Mikesky, a sophomore, said.