WEST – Saturday’s Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools 4A state volleyball championship match was going to make history one way or another.
The Woodlands Christian Academy was making not only its first trip to the Final Four, but had advanced the day before to its first title game after a five-set win over district foe Houston Cypress Christian.
Lubbock Trinity Christian had been here a few times.
In fact, the Lady Lions were eyeing a fourth straight TAPPS volleyball crown – something only four other programs had done in TAPPS’ 40-year history of sponsoring state championships.
And for the second straight year, head coach Tyler Neal’s squad completed 3-0 sweeps in both the semifinal and championship matches after defeating The Woodlands Christian Academy, 25-14, 25-17, 25-9.
With the win, Trinity Christian joined Hallettsville Sacred Heart (1988-1992), Houston St. Agnes Academy (1993-1997), Austin St. Michael’s Catholic (2000-2003) and Dallas Bishop Lynch (2013-2016) and became the first non-TCIL original school to do so.
Led by outside hitter Peyton Himango and setter Bradi Marshall, who on Wednesday signed their college letters of intent with Palm Beach Atlantic and Lubbock Christian School, respectively, the two connected numerous times to wear down the Lady Warriors defense.
While the Lions put together an impressive sweep of The Woodlands Christian Academy to win the school’s seventh state championship, the Lady Warriors led in each of the first two sets.
The Lady Warriors got out to an early 7-4 lead in the first set on a trio of kills by junior outside hitter Macie Draudt and senior middle hitters Rylie Ray and Carson Ellisor.
After tying it at 7-all, Lubbock Trinity took a four-point lead three times before Draudt pulled the Lady Warriors as close as they’d get, 16-13, with a pair of kills.
The Lady Lions then went on a 9-1 run that included kills from four different players.
The Woodlands Christian Academy turned a 4-3 second set deficit into three different leads of four, the last being 12-8 after Draudt sent a rocket right at Lubbock Trinity sophomore Emily Smith.
Yet again, the Lions’ aggressive attacks keyed a 13-4 run behind senior outside hitter Karah Ross, who notched four kills while Himango rotated to the back row.
In the third set, the Lions raced out to a 6-1 lead, forcing TWCA head coach Kori Parker to call a time out.
After pushing the lead to 12-3, the Lady Warriors whittled it down by two, 14-7, before the Lions unleashed another impressive 11-2 run in which TWCA started to show signs of its five-set match the day before.
Marshall served eight straight points, including a couple of aces, during that run to help seal the win.
Lubbock Trinity Christian ended the year at 26-9-1 while The Woodlands Christian Academy finished at 28-7-2.
Himango and Marshall joined senior outside hitters Karah Ross and Megan Scott on the all-tournament team, while The Woodlands Christian Academy added junior libero Ryann Booth, junior outside hitter Macie Draudt, senior Destiny Brass and sophomore outside hitter Bella Eddie.
— Jon Walk (Photos by David Fuller)