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    Lady Horns one win away from state title



    Schulenburg's Shannon Mikesky tips the ball over the net during the fifth game of Thursday's state semifinal match.

    Schulenburg's Shannon Mikesky tips the ball over the net during the fifth game of Thursday's state semifinal match.

    GARLAND - Schulenburg head coach Donald Zapalac was relieved when recent history didn't repeat itself.

    Up by five with match point in game four, the Lady Horns ended up losing the set at the UIL State Volleyball Tournament's Class 2A semifinal against White Oak Thursday at Curtis Culwell Center.

    When that happened at Poth during district play, Schulenburg fell in the fifth game. This time, Schulenburg got ahead in the deciding set and closed out the 3-2 victory.

    "That was a flashback to Poth," Zapalac said. "We really like that we wrote a different story this time. It think the nerves got to us. We thought the race was over and let up a little bit. But credit White Oak. They have the heart of a champion. They weren't going to go away easy."

    The Ladynecks were making their third straight state tourney appearance while the Lady Horns were making their first.

    It showed in the first set when White Oak got out to a 18-12 lead on Dorothy Swanson's fourth kill of the game.

    After the 17-25 setback, Schulenburg fared much better at the onset of the second set, building an 8-4 lead as three different players had one kill apiece along with a Shannon Mikesky block and Tanner Guentert served an ace. Sarah's Walker's block put Schulenburg up 17-10.

    "After the first game, we played like was a normal game," Lady Horn India Connor said.

    "It was a new environment," Guentert added. We had to get our nerves out."

    White Oak battled back to tie the second set 18-all on Rebecca Green's third kill of the game and then went ahead 20-19 on an ace by Morgan Baldwin.

    Schulenburg came right back with a 6-3 run on kills by Mikesky, Connor, and Bay Guentert. Two Ladyneck attacks missed and Connor's block finished off the 25-23 win.

    The Lady Horns cruised to a 25-14 victory in game three, jumping ahead 10-2 as Mikesky had a kill and two aces.

    Also during the stretch, Tanner Guentert registered two kills, Connor had one, and Jade Bujnoch served an ace. White Oak setters were called for double hits four times during the remainder of the set, which ended after two errant Ladyneck attacks and a Bay Guentert ace.

    Kelsie Fietsam had three quick kills early in game four as Schulenburg got out to a 5-1 lead. White Oak chipped away and tied the set at 10-all after two straight aces by Desiree Vining.

    A 7-1 Lady Horn run followed with two more kills by Fietsam, one by Connor, and an ace by Kristin Moring. Schulenburg again went up by six at 22-16 after a Tanner Guentert kill and consecutive aces by Connor.

    From there, the Ladynecks battled back with two kills each from Swanson and Green. Vining added another ace and Schulenburg was called for touching the net to give White Oak a 26-24 win.

    Coach Zapalac said he didn't tell his troops much before game five, deferring to his assistant coach and wife, Melissa, to provide the inspirational words.

    "I try to concentrate on the Xs and Os," he said.

    It worked as the Lady Horns built an 8-3 lead behind two kills by Mikesky and one apiece from Tanner Guentert, Connor, and Bay Guentert.

    White Oak got within three points on two straight kills by Madison Pecot, at 8-5, and then after an errant pass by Schulenburg, at 11-8. Down the stretch of the 15-9 final, Bay Guentert and Walker had kills and the match ended with a White Oak attack into the net.

    "I'm proud of my girls," White Oak head coach Carolee Musick said. "They fought hard but we came up short and were unproductive at moments when you couldn't afford to be against a team of that caliber.


    NOTES• White Oak finished with a record of 40-6 while Schulenburg (35-9) advances to play Brock in the 2A final Saturday at 11:30 a.m.

    • STATS FROM THURSDAY'S MATCH: Mikesky - 12 kills, 34 assists, 15 digs; Bay Guentert - 11 kills, three aces, 11 digs; Fietsam - 10 kills; Tanner Guentert - six kills, eight assists; Connor - six kills; and Moring - 11 digs. Leaders for White Oak were: Swanson - 16 kills, two blocks; Taylor Tramel - nine kills; Pecot - eight kills; Morgan Baldwin - 33 assists; Green - six kills; Shelby Stillwell - 12 digs; and Vining - five aces.



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