It may not have been their sharpest performance; however, the No. 1-ranked Bushland Lady Falcons will play for a three-peat on Saturday after beating the East Bernard in four sets 25-16, 22-25, 25-14, 25-17, in a University Interscholastic League Class 3A state semifinal at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland on Thursday afternoon.
Bushland (41-4) now turns its attention to a highly anticipated rematch with No. 2-ranked Gunter (42-6) at 11 a.m., Saturday. The Lady Falcons downed the Tigers in four-sets last season to claim back-to-back state titles, and a sixth in program history.
“We need to clean up some mistakes from the East Bernard game,” Bushland head coach Jason Culpepper said. “We need to move the ball around and do a good job on the defensive side. We watched Gunter in the early game, and we’ll put something together for Saturday.”
Bushland got the lead on East Bernard jumping out to a 17-10 first set advantage on the way to a 25-16 win. The Brahmarettes (42-8) didn’t go away rallying back in the second set. Bushland was in command up 11-4, then 20-17 only to see East Bernard go on an 8-2 run to claim the second set 25-22. From that point forward it was all Bushland with its stellar defense, strong offense and serving attack as the Lady Falcons went on for the four-set victory.
“It’s really exciting playing for another state championship,” Bushland senior setter Logan Culpepper said. “We played a great team in East Bernard, and we had to make some adjustments, but we have a great mindset going into Saturday and playing for another title.”
Bushland served up 13 aces against East Bernard tying White Oak (2012), and Poth (2006) for the most service aces in a state tournament match. Madyson Eberly and Rachel Russell each had five aces to lead the way for the Lady Falcons. Eberly added nine kills with three blocks, teammate Kaela Neie registered a team-high 16 kills with eight digs and Abby Howell knocked down 13 kills. Culpepper kept the offense on the move with a team-high 29 assists and chipped in six digs, as Jada Permenter led the defense with 19 digs.
“That was a great East Bernard team,” Culpepper said. “I thought we came up with some big digs in the middle of the sets that we turned into kills that that propelled us to close out sets. They made us make some adjustments, but it was an overall team win.”
For full game stats of Bushland’s victory over East Bernard, please visit https://www.uiltexas.org/files/athletics/state-volleyball/22vb3as2.htm