By Randy Jennings / Special Contributor
CORSICANA – Ursuline vowed not to let two district losses to Bishop Lynch earlier this season hamper its play in the TAPPS Class 5A state championship volleyball match.
In that regard, the Bears were successful. Lynch (35-9) earned its third straight state title with a 3-1 victory Saturday night, but it was anything but a routine win.
Ursuline (19-8) won the first set and came deceptively close in the final two sets of a 3-1 loss. Scores were 17-25, 25-13, 25-22, 29-27.
The Bears leaned on the all-court game of Brianna Hoelting, their only senior starter.
“It was up to me to be a leader and I’m so proud of the way we came out tonight,’’ Hoelting said.
First-year head coach Corinne Atchison guided Ursuline to the title match.
“Our goal all season was to build to get here,’’ said Atchison. “We really focused on what their hitters did and what we could do against them.’’
Hoelting, aided by a serving run from Lauren Rehman, inspired Ursuline in the first set. Emma Oliver’s crosscourt spike delivered set point.
Lynch grabbed control of the second set to even the match with Morgan Reed serving seven straight points.
Ursuline led for most of the third set and got the advantage by four, 19-15. But Lynch went on a 10-3 run to take the set, 25-22. Balido ripped a crosscourt spike on set point.
Ursuline fought back in set four, opening a quick 8-2 lead. Lynch tied it at 11 and from that point neither team was able to lead by more than two. Ursuline had one set point and fended off three match points.
“This one was more of a relief,’’ said Lynch coach Tricia Roos, who increased her state title count to four since taking over in 2007. “We played Ursuline in the finals last year and in the semifinals the year before that. We know each other well and that makes it hard.’’
Ursuline’s all-tournament selections included Dana Valelly, Wadie DiFrancesco, Whitney Ryan and Hoelting.