The online student news source of Lovejoy High School

The Red Ledger

The online student news source of Lovejoy High School

The Red Ledger

The online student news source of Lovejoy High School

The Red Ledger

One down, one to go

Leopards defeat Dripping Springs 3-0 to earn shot at 7th state title
Grace Nguyen
The Leopards celebrate on the court after winning their semi-final game against Dripping Springs Friday at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland.

‎With the extensive history between these two teams, head volleyball coach Jason Nicholson was somewhat anxious about the crowd that was to accompany the Dripping Springs Tigers going into today’s 5A state semifinal matchup.

Grace Nguyen
Freshman Averi Carlson tips the ball over the net against Dripping Springs Friday.

“In 2015, [Dripping Springs head coach Michael Kane] did a great job of flipping home court on us,” Nicholson said. “Basically, all of Austin came up with them and they did a good job of evening the playing field from a fan standpoint. So I have no idea what to expect when it comes to that piece.”

However, once the first whistle blew and the opposite side of the court was still relatively bare, it was clear that Lovejoy had the home court advantage. The Leopards (47-6, 10-0 in district) routed the Tigers 3-0 in the semifinal match at the Curtis Culwell Center, booking the team’s ticket to the championship match versus Kingwood Park (39-11, 16-0) Saturday at 3 p.m., with hopes of capturing a seventh state title.

Before the team faced Liberty in the quarterfinals, senior Madison Waters talked about how the performance of both teams in the first five points would set the tone for the rest of the night. Friday’s matchup was no different, as the Leopards scored the first five points of set one, effectively forcing a timeout by the Tigers’ head coach.

This kind of dominant play continued as the Leopards held the Tigers to just eight points in the first set. The offense racked up 15 kills with a kill completion of 68.2 percent compared to Dripping Springs’ 28 percent.

Grace Nguyen
Junior Emma Johnson serves the ball during the second set.

“Anytime you go out and get a quick start, especially in a setting like this, it can help to calm your nerves and allow you to just go out and play,” Nicholson said. “[Assistant coach Ryan] Mitchell did a really good job talking to the girls about playing within themselves and letting the game come to us. Not expecting too much early, and just kind of going out there and playing ball. It worked out well for us.”

The second set was noticeably more competitive, with four ties and two lead changes. Yet, every time the Tigers started to build some momentum, the Leopards came up with a block or kill to extinguish it and simultaneously build their lead.

“That’s what kind of sets us apart right from the start,” Nicholson said. “We got a kid every time that can go up and put the ball away, and sometimes with such a velocity that it changes the whole momentum of the game. It makes it real difficult on our opponents when they feel like they’re trying to make a run on us.”

The third set followed the same suit, as the student section began to have a visible impact on the morale of the already weary Tigers. Despite some bright moments for the Dripping Springs’ outside hitters, the consistency of the Leopards offense and defense led to them ultimately prevailing 25-17.

“It’s amazing because we haven’t been to the state finals before,” senior Michelle Foster said. “So, to be leaders on the court and contribute [to the win], it just means a lot to us and we’re really proud of this team.”

Kingwood Park came out of the semifinals on the other side of the bracket, with a 3-2 win over Randall (35-7, 16-0). The match was a competitive one, as both teams seemed to be pretty evenly matched from a statistical standpoint. Kingwood Park tallied a hitting efficiency of 23.7 percent, led by senior middle blocker Katey Searcy who completed 57.9 percent of her kills (11 for 19) and junior right side Alia Williams who completed 50 percent (13 for 26).

Not only is this the team’s ninth appearance in the state tournament, but the Leopards have been sitting in the number one spot in class 5A for the majority of the season. The Panthers, who are making their first appearance in the state tournament, were ranked the 24th overall team in the state according to Maxpreps, heading into Friday’s semifinal.

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About the Contributors
Alexis Russell
Alexis Russell, Staff Writer
Alexis Russell is a senior this year, and it is her second year on staff. She mostly writes about sports, including volleyball, basketball, and baseball. Her favorite teams are the Mavs and Cowboys, and her most prized possession is an autographed cardboard cutout of Dirk Nowitzki’s head. Her hobbies include wake surfing, skiing, and sitting in her massage chair. Her all-time favorite movie is Dodgeball, and her favorite band is Del Water Gap. After graduation, she hopes to study International Relations at either UT or Arizona. She looks forward to a great year with The Red Ledger.
Grace Nguyen
Grace Nguyen, Section Editor
Fueled daily by three iced vanilla coffees, standing at 5’2”, Grace Nguyen will walk into the E103 door with no problem. Grace is entering senior year, and the only reason she is believed to have survived high school is because of the napping couch in the photography studio. During her time on staff, Grace has been to almost every football game, win or loss, and wouldn’t have changed a thing. Yes, Grace has been tackled by football players, run over by coaches, and body slammed by referees. Nonetheless, Grace will confidently walk on the field this year, bruises and all, alongside her sideline media team. Stepping outside the newsroom, which is rare, Grace enjoys playing softball, hanging out with family and friends, and finding excuses to go to every $3 Pazookie Tuesdays at BJ’s. After high school, Grace hopes to pursue a career in sports photojournalism, so watch out for her still getting run over by athletes on ESPN in the years to come. Although it’s bittersweet to leave newspaper upon graduation, Grace is thankful for all the opportunities that she’s had on staff. Through The Red Ledger, Grace created long-lasting friendships and won a lot of awards that she never imagined was possible. Grace hopes that current and future staffers will think of this national-award-winning publication the same way as she did–a second family and their home away from home.

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    Pat SengerNov 18, 2018 at 6:20 pm

    I continue to be impressed by the maturity and talent Alexis is demonstrating as a young staff writer. Her articles are detailed, interesting and seem to be a perfect blend of action on the court and interviews from coaches and team players. I look forward to reading all of Alexis’ future articles!