In what was a true showcase of how incredible Texas High School volleyball is in the Texas Panhandle, District 4-4A was on display with their own playoff type tournament on Tuesday night at the WTAMU Fieldhouse, better known as “The Box” in Canyon.
The WTAMU Fieldhouse is heralded for tremendous volleyball serving home to the tradition-rich and NCAA Division II defending national champion West Texas A&M volleyball team.
In front of a packed house of fans, district rivals West Plains battled Hereford while Randall took on arch-rival Canyon with two bids to the Region I-4A Tournament on the line.
West Plains advances to first ever regional tournament
West Plains added a new chapter to a very short history on Tuesday night advancing to the program’s first ever Region I-4A Tournament thanks to a four-set win, 25-22, 25-11, 16-25, 25-18, over rival Hereford.
The Lady Wolves took a very good back-and-forth first set pulling away down the stretch. After flat out dominating the second set, Hereford, by no surprise, showed its grit fighting back to claim the third set and push West Plains to play more volleyball. However, in the fourth set, senior Piper Patterson took over finishing the game with the final six points with timely kills that put the Lady Whitefaces away and gave the Lady Wolves the massive victory.
“This was an amazing environment,” West Plains head coach Kaitlyn Cornelius said. “You don’t get a lot of opportunities to play in a gym like this. This shows how good our district is with four teams playing here. As for the game, we started off great but Hereford battled back and played really well. We made some mistakes. We were able to bounce back in that fourth set and find that aggressive offense we’ve run all season.”
Patterson, Jayli Franklin and Brooklyn Garcia all tallied 12 kills. Zenaida Murrillo was magnificent with her sister Cece on offense. Zenaida was all over the court quarterbacking 19 assists with 24 digs for a double-double. Cece led the team with 26 assists and senior leader McCall Sims as expected was her stellar self on the back row with a game-high 30 digs.
Kyndal Blair led the Lady Whitefaces with 16 kills and the talented London Baker added 29 assists as Hereford ends another strong season at 22-18.
West Plains reaches quite the milestones in only its second year of existence. Not only will the Lady Wolves play in their first ever Region I-4A Tournament when they battle Stephenville (33-5) at 8 p.m. on Friday in a semifinal at Frenship High School, West Plains takes more steps forward hitting the 40-win mark for the first time ever improving to 40-7 overall.
“It’s a big deal to make the regional tournament,” Cornelius said. “We talked about being in this same position last year. We knew what we needed to do in this game to get the job done. We did what we needed to do, and this means a lot for the culture we’re trying to build.”
Randall rolls into regional tournament
Unlike the first match on Tuesday night at the WTAMU Fieldhouse, the night cap didn’t have much drama to it as the Randall Lady Raiders took care of rival Canyon quickly in a three-set sweep, 25-17, 25-9, 25-15, during a Class 4A regional quarterfinal.
The Lady Raiders (40-4) join district rival West Plains with 40 wins on the season, the most of any Texas Panhandle team. Randall takes care of Canyon (22-22) for a third time this season. The Lady Raiders run their playoff win streak to 10 straight dating back to last season and most importantly Randall marches on to defend their UIL state championship when they head to the Region I-4A Tournament for a fifth straight year under head coach Haleigh Burns.
“I think it’s a testament to the players that we have and the work they put in,” Burns said. “Making to the regional tournament is tough and to watch them do it again is so awesome. This was so great and what an incredible showing for the Texas Panhandle. To see how many people were here and I’m proud of our district.”
Senior outside hitter and reigning state MVP Jordyn Gove was on another level on Tuesday night. Gove smoked the Lady Eagles with her powerful offense knocking down a game-high 27 kills and added eight digs. Of course, Gove wouldn’t get the opportunities without sensational setter Sidney Soria who dished out 36 assists and had nine digs of her own. Teammate Brooke Henderson also played a key role serving superbly with four aces, tacking on four kills.
“Canyon is a good team,” Burns said. “We knew we had to get out fast and we did a good job of that. The game-plan was to come out strong and set the tone. We were able to control our side of the net.”
Randall moves to the Region I-4A Tournament semifinals where the Lady Raiders will play Glen Rose (27-16) at 6 p.m. on Friday at Frenship High School.