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Rouse, Liberty Hill lock up berths in UIL state tournament


Rouse senior middle blocker Ava Bell played “monster in the middle” in Saturday’s Class 5A, Region III championship match, hammering six kills and having a hand in six total blocks (including one solo block) as the Raiders earned their first-ever state tournament berth with a sweep of Kingwood Park at Houston’s Delmar Fieldhouse.

The Raiders (49-3 overall, riding a 33-match win streak) didn’t lose a set at the Region III tourney, sweeping Manvel on Friday before handling Kingwood Park by scores of 25-18, 25-21 and 25-17. Coach Jacob Thompson, who earlier this season earned his 400th career coaching victory, has guided the Raiders to a No. 1 state ranking and a No. 6 ranking nationally, ranked by USA Today.

“These girls have been driven by last year’s (Region III title match loss) to Cedar Park,” an ecstatic Thompson declared. “It’s sheer joy that’s come over everyone in the Rouse community. These girls have never lost their focus; today’s win is well-deserved.

“But I’m not going to lie — the first thing out of their mouths after this match was that they’re not finished yet. The girls are happy to go to state, but they’re still hungry. We’re not just going to state; we’re going to win state.”

Thompson added, “The Rouse football team also won last night to secure a playoff spot. This is a great day in Raider Nation.”

The Rouse seniors stepped up in this one. All-everything e’Lan McCall powered eight kills and served six aces; setter Maddie Sheehan dished out 19 assists while slamming six kills; and libero Katy Northcut dug out 15 balls while contributing two assists.

Meanwhile, the Liberty Hill Lady Panthers handed Gretchen Peterson her 350th career victory as they swept Tarkington for the Region III championship Saturday at Bryan High School.

Liberty Hill (36-13 overall) got 13 kills from senior Jenna Lyons, 36 assists from senior Brooklyn Jones and 10 kills and 12 digs from junior Ella Shipper. The Lady Panthers, winners of six consecutive district championships, will play at the 4A state tourney for the third time in four years; they’ll be looking for their first-ever state semifinal victory.

At the Class 5A, Region IV tournament in Corpus Christi, Tuloso-Midway swept Dripping Springs 29-27, 25-21, 25-19 Friday in a semifinal. The Tigers, the Class 5A state champions in 2015, finished their season with a 36-13 record.

Thrall defeated Blue Ridge in four sets Friday to advance to the Class 2A, Region II championship match at Weatherford High School, but the Tigerettes fell a victory short of the state tournament as Crawford swept them in the regional final, winning 25-14, 25-15, 25-20.

Round Rock Christian earns TAPPS title: One year after finishing as the state runner-up, Round Rock Christian completed its run to the TAPPS Class 3A championship.

The Crusaders defeated (38-6) Willow Park Trinity in four sets in the final, played Saturday at Waco Midway High School. On Friday, Round Rock Christian swept Central Texas Christian in a state-semifinal match.

Regents also advanced to the TAPPS state tournament. The Knights lost to Fort Worth All Saints on Friday, falling in four sets in a Class 5A semifinal.



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