Randall worked out some early nerves while making its first showing at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland for the first time in four years, but eventually settled down to make quick work of Huffman Hargrave by getting a 26-24, 25-20, 25-13, sweep in a University Scholastic League Class 4A state semifinal on Thursday night.
Randall (39-8 overall), making its eighth appearance in school history at the state tournament and the first since 2019, will play for their first title since 2009 when they face Aubrey (39-8) at 1 p.m., Saturday.
“There are a lot of new players on this team from the last team that made it to Garland in 2019,” Randall head coach Haleigh Burns said. “We had to adjust to the atmosphere and nerves. We played together and we were very coachable. We aren’t just excited to be here but we’re here to do what we need to do.”
The victory was a truly special one for Burns who claimed her 200th career victory on Thursday. Burns is 127-32 in four years at Randall and won 73 games in her first four years as a coach at Caprock High School.
“I am honored and blessed to be here coaching the sport I love,” Burns said. “I have had a wonderful fulfilling journey that got me to 200 wins. I have a great coaching staff and a tremendous group of players that have believed and pushed me to get better. I’m just grateful to be here with the team that I love.”
The Lady Raiders won a very tight first set but took the game over in the second set getting the five of the last six points for the 25-22 victory. The momentum was completely in Randall’s favor by that time as the Lady Raiders coasted in the third and final set for the sweep.
“I reminded my team we were at the state tournament in the second set,” Burns said. “I needed to see more energy. We play better and with more confidence when we are celebrating with each other. You saw the game flip when we started playing with great energy. We passed it better in the third set and just took over.”
Junior outside hitter Jordyn Gove was stellar in the match knocking down 16 kills with 15 digs for a double-double. It was another fantastic effort for Gove who says she can’t get those stats without the help of her team.
“We all have goals and for me it is producing for my team to be successful,” Gove said. “I don’t know what I would do without Tatum Brandt and Sidney Soria. Tatum is behind every play and Sidney puts me in perfect position every time.”
Soria ran the offense superbly with 32 assists. Senior leaders Tatum Brandt and Tori Lowry each had big performances. Brandt had six digs while Lowry tallied an impressive six aces with seven kills and four digs.
For a look at full game stats from Randall’s sweep of Huffman Hargrave, please visit https://www.uiltexas.org/files/athletics/state-volleyball/22vb4as1.htm