By Jeff Harrison
Midwest City Beacon
NOBLE – Carl Albert again made some noise at the Class 5A volleyball state tournament.
The No. 6-ranked Lady Titans upset No. 3 Piedmont in the first round Thursday but came up short against No. 2 Bishop McGuinness in Friday night’s semifinal match.
“Bishop McGuinness came out with a fast offense we weren’t prepared for,” said coach Hayden Robbins. “They played with very little mistakes. We got defeated quickly and never really recovered. I am proud of how the girls continued to fight all the way through the third set though.”
It was the school’s fifth consecutive trip to the state tournament. The Lady Titans were state runners-up last year and semifinalists in 2020.
Carl Albert 3, Piedmont 1
Carl Albert didn’t have to think long about how to beat Piedmont in the opening round on Thursday at Newcastle High School. They had done it just a few weeks earlier.
“We still had the gameplan from when we beat them and basically used the same one,” Robbins said. “I told the girls once you get to state, it’s really not about who’s better, it’s about who is going to figure out how to win first. I think our girls really took that into account and picked out Piedmont’s weak spots and they didn’t know how to respond.”
The Lady Titans leaned on their defense to withstand Piedmont’s powerful hitters for the 3-1 victory (24-26, 25-14, 25-23, 25-23).
“Piedmont is used to playing a lot faster. We were hitting it back against them and they didn’t know howto play rally volleyball,” Robbins said. “They’re used to pass, set, kill, but we’re going to rally back and continue rally back.”
After dropping the first set 26-24, the Lady Titans found their rhythm.
They cruised in the second set 25-14. Carl Albert took the lead 9-8 on a score at the net by Emily Boyer and never looked back. They proceeded to outscore Piedmont 17-4 the rest of the way. Eden
Schroeder and Boyer had kills and Rylee Reese added an ace in the set.
Carl Albert won the final two sets – 25-23. Madison Stuart, Aamori Gilbert and Schroeder delivered several key kills and blocks. Ariana Diaz anchored the back row defensively.
Bishop McGuinness 3, Carl Albert 0
The Lady Titans couldn’t find a winning gameplan against the Irish in a 3-0 (25-13, 25-11, 25-18) loss on Friday at Noble High School.
Carl Albert kept things close early in the first set, but couldn’t overcome several mistakes and McGuinness’ powerful offense. It was a similar story in the second set. McGuinness went up by double digits 18-8 on an ace from Taylor Vann. Boyer scored with a couple of blocks, but the Lady Titans couldn’t rally.
Things started to turn around for Carl Albert in the third set. They led early in the set until McGuinness took control 11-10 on a score by Greer Deleon. The Lady Titans continued to press the Irish and got within a point again late on an ace from Diaz. But McGuinness closed out the set and the match with a 7-1 run.
Top-ranked Mount St. Mary beat Bishop McGuinness 3-0 on Saturday for their second consecutive 5A state championship.
The Lady Titans will lose seven seniors to graduation. They include Emily Boyer, Ariana Diaz, Aamori Gilbert, Brylee Toney, Jayna Allard, Hadley Crain and Madison Stuart.
“Our seniors showed great leadership and will for sure be missed next year,” Robbins said. “There will be big shoes to fill and I look forward to watching the underclassman take on new roles.”