Bushland kept its tradition of playing electric volleyball when it counts as the Lady Falcons will once again play for a UIL Class 3A state championship.
The Lady Falcons, who have no took no time dismantling Nacogdoches Central Heights in a state semifinal sweeping the Lady Blue Devils, 25-19, 25-20, 25-14, on Thursday afternoon at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland.
It’s the fourth straight year for Bushland (42-6 overall) to reach the state championship game under head coach Jason Culpepper, and this win now sets up a third straight meeting with rival Gunter (35-11) in the UIL Class 3A state title game set for 11 a.m. on Saturday.
This is also the fourth time in four years Bushland will play Gunter in the state tournament.
Bushland beat Gunter in a semifinal in 2021 then defeated the Lady Tigers in four-sets two years ago to make it back-to-back state titles and a sixth overall in program history before the Lady Tigers gained a measure of revenge with a three-set sweep over the Lady Falcons last season preventing a Bushland three-peat.
“This has become a rivalry with Gunter,” Culpepper said. “We expect to always play them. They are a great team and so are we. We just need to take care of business. We know all about them and they know all about us. It will be fun.”
Bushland’s Abby Howell played a fantastic game on the offensive end with a game-high 16 kills. But it was the passing that was the difference from Mackenzie Sims and Ansley Tiffin-Fernandes that provided the spark. Keeping Central Heights off balanced Sims and Tiffin-Fernandes combined for 37 assists with Sims going for 20 assists and Tiffin-Fernandes adding 17. Sims also was solid on the defensive end with 12 digs for a double-double.
“We played well,” Culpepper said. “We played better than we did in last year’s semifinal. Central Heights was a really good team, and we were able to move the ball and keep them off balance. We all know Abby is going to get her kills on offense but It’s Mackenzie and Ansley that did the job for us today.”
Avery Ramos hit the floor for 17 digs and Lilyann Shannon knocked down 10 kills in the victory.
For a look at the full box score from Bushland’s state semifinal win please visit https://www.uiltexas.org/files/athletics/state-volleyball/23vb3as2.htm#GAME.BOX