GARLAND — Going for its first state championship in program history, Aubrey could not overcome some early struggles Saturday in a 3-0 loss to Canyon Randall at the Curtis Culwell Center.
The Lady Chaparrals (39-10) made their third state tournament appearance in program history this fall, their first two coming in 2003 and 2009. They knocked off Bellville in five sets in Thursday’s state semifinal match to advance to the title game.
“It means everything,” said senior Sydney Garrison of the opportunity. “Aubrey was never a really big volleyball school. The fact us seniors could lead this team to that point, it means absolutely everything.”
Garrison, a Tarleton State signee, led the way for Aubrey in tallying 14 kills and 14 digs. Annaleise Sevier and Meagan Szostek added six kills apiece. Olivia Starr posted 23 assists and eight digs while Makayla Johnson added 12 digs.
Randall (40-9) took control early in Set 1, riding a 5-0 run to an 8-3 advantage. An 11-2 run later in the set helped the Lady Raiders pull ahead 22-9. They weathered a late Aubrey push to win the opening set 25-16.
Again controlling early in the second set, Randall jumped out to a 10-2 lead. Its dominance continued from there in building up a 19-6 edge as the Lady Chaps struggled to string points together. A late Aubrey run helped make the final score a bit closer, but it ultimately lost the set 25-17 to fall behind 2-0.
“Their setter did a really good job of keeping us off-balance, we guessed too much early on,” Aubrey coach Whitney Stout said. “When we finally settled down, we played a lot better in the third set, but it took us too long to settle down.”
A much more competitive start to the third set left the teams tied at 7-7 early on. The Lady Chaps pulled ahead 12-9 later in the set, but the Lady Raiders pushed back to later pull ahead 19-17. Aubrey led 24-23 late in the set, but Randall made plays late when it needed to and took a 27-25 third-set victory.
“Because of the way the two first sets [went], the outcome, we had to adjust some things in the third set,” Johnson said. “I feel like that helped us a lot. We just needed a little bit more of a push at the end.”
Even as their season ended in defeat, the Lady Chaparrals took pride in their historic playoff run.
“I’m just really proud of these kids, for everything they’ve accomplished,” Stout said. “I’m really proud of our seniors, they’ve done an amazing job for us all year.
“It’s not the outcome that we wanted, but it doesn’t take away from what this team accomplished this year.”