When Industrial lost the first set against Bushland in the UIL Class 3A state semifinal on Thursday afternoon, first-year coach Kelsey Vasquez delivered a message that would change the entire outcome of the match.
“I told them to calm down and everything would be fine,” Vasquez said. “I tried not to over coach them and let it get to them. I told them to do the simple things and not overplay.”
The Cobras went on to win the next two sets and despite coming up short in the fourth frame, Industrial persevered in five sets with a 12-25, 25-21, 25-23, 15-25, 15-13 win to advance to the state final game for the first time in school history.
The Cobras (37-11) will return to Garland’s Curtis Culwell Center to play Van Alstyne, a four-set winner over Lexington at 11 a.m. Saturday.
“This is the farthest these girls have gone and our confidence is high,” Vasquez said. “We played a great team, but my girls came out, and we felt like we could hang with them.”
The Cobras’ win handed Bushland its second defeat of the season.
Industrial senior Kylann Griffith dominated the match with a game-high 29 kills.
Lauren Williams registered 7 kills, 24 assists and 25 digs, while Allie Eschenberg finished with 9 assists, 36 digs and an ace.
Now the Cobras will turn their attention to Van Alstyne, which emerged as the District 10-3A champion out of Region II.
The Lady Panthers (37-4) are led by outside hitters Samantha Moore (161 kills) and Sydney Ingram (132 kills).
A win Saturday would give Industrial its first state championship in school history.
Vasquez is confident her girls will be ready for the challenge.
“We will have to do the same things we have been doing,” Vasquez said. “Hopefully we can get a practice in and focus on our mental game.”
UIL Class 3A state semifinal
Industrial 3, Bushland 2
Industrial 12 25 25 15 15
Bushland 25 21 22 25 13
Highlights: (I) Rachel Spacek 1 dig; Shelby Creene 6 digs; Allie Eschenberg 1 ace, 9 assists, 36 digs; Abigail Pfuhl 1 kill, 1 block, 1 dig; Kylann Griffith 29 kills, 1 block, 5 assists, 26 digs; Lauren Williams 7 kills, 24 assists, 25 digs; Maddison Stanush 5 kills, 1 block, 3 digs; Katelynn Stout 7 digs; Ky Kusak 1 dig; Landry Payne 3 digs. Record: Industrial 37-11.