SNYDER — With their 25-23, 25-23, 25-15 victory over Midlothian Heritage in the Region 1 final Saturday at Western Texas College, the second-ranked Glen Rose Lady Tigers will be making their first appearance in school history in the volleyball final four.
“Everyone has been so supportive and seems to be really excited to be a part of such a fun time,” said Glen Rose volleyball coach Sandy Langford.
With the win, the Lady Tigers — the highest ranked team remaining in the tournament — earn a meeting with No. 9 Argyle, one of the state’s top volleyball programs in the last few years. The match is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland. The winner will face the winner of Liberty Hill (33-10) and Needville (41-6) Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in Garland for the state championship.
The Lady Eagles have made four consecutive trips to the final four, and won the state championship in 2016. The Lady Tigers enter the game at 48-1, while the Lady Eagles enter at 26-18.
“Records don’t mean anything; the fight to make it to the top does,” Langford said. “They had so many adjustments to make this season with a new coach, graduating crucial leaders and players and forming basically a new team. They have tradition, and being at the state tournament the last four years says a lot. That gives them an automatic confidence, tradition of winning and competing at a high level.”
The Lady Eagles, who finished second in District 9-4A, have won five straight and 11 of their last 12. En route to Garland, Argyle beat Dallas Carter, Nevada Community, Decatur, Pleasant Grove and Krum, while the Lady Tigers, the District 8-4A champion and winners of 11 straight, beat Benbrook, Brownwood, Springtown, Andrews and District 8-4A runner-up Midlothian Heritage.
The Lady Tigers played 11 matches against common opponents and went 11-0, while Argyle went 9-3 against common opponents, including two losses to Heritage.
In Saturday’s Regional Final, the Lady Tigers and Lady Jaguars were meeting for the fourth time this season — and Glen Rose had won the previous three meetings.
“They were confident but not overconfident because Heritage is a really good team,” Langford said. “Each time we played them, they played us closer and closer.”
In the final match of the regular season, the Lady Tigers beat the Lady Jags in five at Heritage to win the district title at 12-0. The other two meetings, the Lady Tigers won in four.
The Lady Jags (33-4), who beat No. 1 Bushland to earn another shot at Glen Rose, jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the first set and led by two at 22-20 before the Lady Tigers made their push. Logan Smith, who was named the MVP of the regional tournament, recorded a kill followed by kills from all-tournament selections Ally Andress and Bryanna Lytle, and a Heritage hitting error pushed the Lady Tiger lead to 24-22. After a GR hitting error cut the lead to 24-23, Lytle closed out the set with a kill.
“We made major adjustments to play them the fourth time,” Langford said. “Once we got our feet under us and focused on ourselves, we began to execute and make things happen.”
Glen Rose took a big 4-1 lead in the second set and after the Lady Jags tied the score at 6-6, the game was tied or the lead changed hands nine times before the Lady Tigers eventually opened up a three-point lead at 18-15. Heritage fought back and took the lead at 21-20 and again at 22-21. With the set tied at 23, Smith and Lytle got back-to-back kills to close out the set.
Trailing 6-5 in the third set, a Heritage hitting error and a kill by Libby Hinton gave the Lady Tigers their first lead at 8-7 and they never looked back. Laiken McAnear, who played a right side, eventually closed out the set at 25-15 with a kill.
Smith led the Lady Tigers with 11 kills and 13 digs, while Lytle finished with 10 kills and 17 digs, and McAnear and Andress added nine kills each. Hinton finished with eight.
Madi Mooney also tallied 17 digs. Mallory Rogers had a team-high 25 assists and Emma Bozarth added 21 assists and eight digs. Hinton had two of the Lady Tigers’ three blocks.
The Lady Tigers defeated District 10 champion Andrews 25-13, 25-16, 25-10 Friday to earn the meeting with Heritage. Smith had 18 kills, while Andress, Lytle, Hinton and Taylor Fellers had eight, seven, six kills and three kills, respectively. Mooney tallied a team-best 16 digs and Lytle had 15 and Smith had 11.
Bozarth led the Lady Tigers with 21 assists and Rogers added 16.