GARLAND — Abilene Wylie had its chances to eliminate Argyle in the Class 3A state semifinals, having all but knocked out the Eagles in the third set but unable to put them away.
Two sets later and past the total needed for victory, the Bulldogs finally notched the point it needed.
Wylie advanced to the 3A state championship game with a 25-23, 25-18, 23-25, 17-25, 18-16 victory over Argyle on Friday afternoon at Garland’s Curtis Culwell Center.
Argyle’s season ends after a remarkable run to the state tournament that included wins over Decatur and Longview Spring Hill in the previous rounds. The Lady Eagles reached the state tournament for the first time in school history, and in the fifth set, almost continued the run with the score even at 14.
“Tied at 14, I thought we were going to get them,” Argyle head coach Clark Oberle said.
“We got a couple of unlucky breaks, and that was the difference. You hate when unlucky breaks cost you the match, but that’s what happens.”
With the score tied, the Lady Eagles (35-11) were whistled for a double hit, giving the Bulldogs the one-point lead and a chance to close out the match. Oberle looked at the head official and cried out in disbelief.
But Wylie, which made its third straight appearance in the state semifinals, still couldn’t finish off the match.
The Eagles tied the game again and even had match point at 16-15 before the Bulldogs scored the game’s final three points. Wylie junior Bailey Turner slammed home the match-winning kill against two Argyle blockers.
The Bulldogs were led by senior Kylie Jenkins’ 22 kills and junior Layne Little’s 17. Argyle junior Brooke Robertson had a game-high 26 kills, and senior Blair O’Brien had 63 of the Eagles’ 68 assists and 18 digs.
Against Wylie (42-5), the top-ranked team in the state by the Texas Girls Coaches Association, Argyle erased a two-set deficit and prolonged elimination with a comeback that finally relented in the game’s final three points.
After narrowly winning the first set, the Bulldogs controlled the second set. By the middle of the third set, the large contingent of Argyle fans that made its way to the state were mostly silent as Wylie opened up a commanding 17-12 lead.
Later, Wylie senior Kylie Jenkins smashed a kill down the middle of the court, forcing Oberle to call a timeout with his team down 21-18. The Eagles scored four of the next five points and tied the set at 22.
Argyle forced two quick timeouts by Bulldogs head coach Maggie Hunt and took the lead immediately afterward.
On the Eagles’ second opportunity to close out the third set, Robertson gently killed the final point down the left side of the court and near the net, extending the season.
“I felt like even though [Wylie] played a really hard game, I feel like we were the ones with the more heart in it no matter what because they’ve been here before and we haven’t,” Argyle senior Sierra James said. “We just wanted to make school history, and we did, but we just wish we could have gone another step further.”
The Eagles converted 13 of 39 kill attempts in the fourth set and cruised to the eight-point win. Wylie had its worst hitting percentage of the match in the fourth set but rallied in the fifth and decisive set to hold off Argyle.
In his 13th year at Argyle, Oberle said this year’s run to the Eagles’ first state tournament was exciting and the byproduct of a having a cohesive team and getting a favorable draw in the playoff bracket.
“We’ve had pretty good teams historically in the past,” Oberle said. “The last couple of years we met up with Lucas Lovejoy in the regional quarterfinals — and it’s tough to get by them — and we had just had an unlucky draw for a few years. And this year, it just kind of all came together.”
BEN BABY can be reached at 940-566-6869. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .