GARLAND — It had been nearly 500 days since the Fulshear High School volleyball team lost a match against a team in their own classification.
During that time, the Chargers won a 4A state champion and sought another one against Lucas Lovejoy Saturday at the Curtis Culwell Center in the 2020 UIL 5A State Volleyball Championship.
But Lovejoy wouldn’t allow the repeat; the Leopard swept Fulshear, 14-25, 17-25, 22-25.
The Chargers finish the year as astate finalist with a 25-5 record overall.
“We knew this was a cool deal to be here, but to do it back-to-back was special,” Fulshear head coach Sydney Gotcher said. “We realize how great that is, and we’re not taking that for granted.”
The Leopards made sure that Fulshear wasn’t comfortable.
A pair of kills and an ace from Cecily Bramschreiber put Lovejoy up 9-3.
Lovejoy would lead 13-3 before Fulshear served again after Leopards’ service error.
A Brielle Warren kill broke the run of Lovejoy points at 15-5, but the Leopards started up another run to lead 19-5. Fulshear would close the gap with a kill from Warren and a handful of errors by Lovejoy. But the margin remained double-digits, and the Leopards took the first set 25-14.
“Lovejoy is a really good team, and they jumped out quick,” Gotcher said. “We struggled to find a rhythm. We found a little more in the second and a little more in the third set. It’s frustrating it took us that long.”
The second started similar to the first. Fulshear led 1-0 on a kill by Alexis Dacosta, but Lovejoy followed four straight points. More errors from Fulshear put Lovejoy up 9-3.
Ellie Echter and Dacosta were able to get their rhythm going with kills, but Lovejoy responded with their own to stay in front 14-7.
“I think we could have come out with a little more energy,” Echter said. “We weren’t playing like ourselves.”
Warren and Echter scored kills, and Warren also added an ace to set the score at 16-12, still in favor of Lovejoy.
Fulshear could not close the gap, and Bramschreiber closed out the second set with a pair of kills.
“Our defense wasn’t as aggressive as it needed to be,” Gotcher said. “Our serve receive wasn’t aggressive as it needed to be, and our passing wasn’t as aggressive as it needed to be.”
Fulshear continued to find their legs in the third set. Warren and Echter each had an early kill that set the score at four all.
Dacosta and Echter scored to tie the match back up at 6.
An Ava Underwood ace put Fulshear up 8-7. It would be the Chargers’ final lead.
Three-straight errors up Lovejoy up 10-8. Three-straight kills from the Leopards extended the lead to 13-10.
Becca Ferrari recorded an ace to set the score at 18-15 Lovejoy.
The two teams traded kills, but Fulshear couldn’t close the gap.
Echter scored two to help get the margin to 24-22, but a kill from Grace Milliken ended the match.
“We knew this match was going to be a battle,” Underwood said. “We knew Lovejoy was a very, very strong program.
“I think our nerves got to us, in my opinion. Once we got into the match and settled in; weplayed like ourselves. It just felt like for us, it was very, very rocky, and we weren’t able to fully find our grove.”
Fulshear had 20 kills in total, led by Echter with 11, while Warren added 10. Dacosta had seven kills and 13 digs to lead the team. Underwood had 27 assists.
The Chargers had seven seniors on the 2020 roster: Ellie Echter, Becca Ferrari, Avery Reid, Jenna Helms, Elizabeth Dobbs, Allyson Struble and Kalee Tollefson.