GARLAND – Randall seemed primed and focused through the first two sets to repeat as UIL Class 4A state champions on Saturday at the Culwell Center.
That was until momentum completely went the way of Comal Davenport which took the third set and ran with that energy to come all the way back for a five-set thrilling victory, 22-25, 22-25, 25-22, 25-21, 17-15, leaving Randall heartbroken and just short of a second straight state championship.
“It didn’t go the way we wanted it to,” Randall head coach Haleigh Burns said. “I think this team battled and they went through hard things this season to get to this point. A lot of people doubted we could even get back here. To get back here and play for another state title is a true testament to the heart and grit this team has. Hats off to Davenport. They played hard and battled when we were caught watching at times. This is tough for this team that has worked really hard.”
Randall, who had won 13 straight playoff games including two tough battles with Stephenville in the Region I-4A finals and a grueling state semifinal with Salado on Thursday, ends another fantastic season at 43-5.
The Lady Raiders got off to a great start behind the play of the dynamic duo of senior Jordyn Gove and junior Sidney Soria. Randall took the first two sets and looked as though a sweep was coming. However, Davenport (47-5) found something in the third set getting the Lady Raiders out of system and taking advantage of errors to go up 18-8 in the third. Randall battled back to tie it, 18-18, but the Lady Wolves held off the charge.
After the fourth set went to Davenport, Randall regrouped behind Gove who opened the fifth set with five kills to give the Lady Raiders a 10-7 lead. But in the end, Davenport played better volleyball closing the match out with a kill by State MVP Talan Dodson, who finished the game with 29 kills and 17 digs.
“I think we lost sight of getting good touches at the net,” Burns said. “We had some miscommunication on defense, and we tried to do too much in the third set. Davenport caught fire and we didn’t pass the ball well.”
Soria ended the match with a team-high 42 assists and 21 digs for a double-double. Brooke Henderson had 17 kills and then there’s the senior standout Jordyn Gove.
Gove, a Valparaiso commit, left everything she had on the floor at the Culwell Center. Last year’s State MVP, who is one of the best to ever wear a Lady Raider uniform, finished the contest with 26 kills and 21 digs. On the weekend, Gove tallied 53 kills giving her an incredible 1,916 kills for her immaculate career.
“I’m grateful to be able to play with this group of seniors,” Gove said. “Especially since seventh grade. The split with West Plains High School was tough but with the seniors next to me I’m not the person I am today. Every one of them has taught me life lessons. It’s been incredible to play in two state tournaments and I can’t ask for anything else even though it was tough to lose.”
For a look at the full box score please visit, https://www.uiltexas.org/files/athletics/state-volleyball/23vb4af.htm