White Oak’s Championship Dream Ends With Loss To Brock In 3A State Semifinals
GARLAND -- White Oak put together four major rallies in Thursday's Class 3A state semifinal game against Brock, but the Ladynecks' season ended one game and two wins short of the grand prize at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland.
The Brock Lady Eagles, a team that made its third consecutive trip to the UIL Volleyball Championships with a win in the Region II championship game, will play for the state title after its 3-1 (25-18, 25-27, 25-16, 25-19) win against one of East Texas' crown jewels.
"Brock is a great team," second-year White Oak head coach Nicole Thorn said. "To beat them, we were going to have to be quick on all cylinders. We struggled with serving and passing tonight. I think that was the difference."
The Ladynecks, the winners of the Region III tournament after hard-fought games with Jewitt Leon and Franklin, were devastated. They were going for the program's second state championship and first since 2010.
Thursday's match marked White Oak's eighth trip to the state tournament and sixth appearance since 2007.
The team fell a few breaks short of advancing to take on Poth in the state championship game. Poth swept Shallowater on the other side of the bracket.
Brock (39-6) used a 9-1 run to gain a 21-11 lead in the first set. White Oak (32-9) rallied for its own 8-1 streak and cut the Lady Eagles' advantage to 22-18 before falling 25-18.
It wasn't the best result for the Ladynecks, but they appeared to have some momentum heading into the second game of the match.
Instead, Brock jumped out an 8-2 edge in the next set. A rally fueled by senior Kayla McCoy's four points and five straight Brock errors helped the Ladynecks claim an 18-15 lead.
Brock tied the game at 18, 20 and 25 points before falling on senior Kailee Simmons' ace and a net violation.
More of the same in the match's final two sets.
Brock took a 13-6 lead in the third game and White Oak drew as close as 16-12 before going down 25-16.
White Oak put together an 8-3 run to draw within 18-16 in the decisive fourth set. Brock scored seven of the final 10 points to win the match.
"We have had to fight through a lot of matches," Thorn said. "We played with a lot of heart and character today. I was proud of our kids for not giving up when Brock was making those runs. But, with that kind of team, you have to make them earn every single point. And they didn't make a lot of errors today."
Brock committed 25 errors in the four-set match. That's a very good number.
White Oak had just 23 errors.
Brock had to battle for most of its offensive points. White Oak recorded 71 digs in the match, but the Lady Eagles ultimately converted 57 of 161 kill attempts and aced 10 serves.
McCoy finished her final high school game with 12 kills and one assist. Senior Taylor Tramel led White Oak scorers with 15 kills. Audrey Lundstet, a junior, rounded out double-digit scorers for the East Texas side with 10 kills.
Junior setter Cayman Sutton recorded 37 of the team's 41 assists and scored on an ace.
Shannon Watkins put up 47 assists for Brock. Kanyon Klein, Bailey Snow and Paxton Parliament scored 18, 14 and 11 kills respectively. Snow added four of the team's 10 aces in the match.
Brock will take on Poth for the Class 3A state championship at 11:30 a.m. Saturday in Garland.
White Oak is expected to return nine letter winners from its 15-person squad next season.
"We have improved tremendously," Thorn said. "I could not be more proud of our kids. We talk about the season being in three parts. That's the preseason, our tournament schedule as well as district and then postseason. We accomplished a lot this year.
"But we didn't come here for a good season. We came here to win it. It's just tough."