After another three-game sweep Friday, the Decatur Lady Eagles are only one win away from their first state-championship. Decatur (40-7) dominated from start to finish on their way to a 25-12, 25-22, 25-10 win over the Big Spring Lady Steers (32-14), at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland.
“To be one step away from everything we’ve worked for our entire volleyball career – this game [Saturday] is everything we’ve been dreaming of,” said junior Stormi Leonard.
The Lady Eagles will battle Bellville in the state championship game at 2 p.m. Saturday. The Brahmanettes will be seeking their 10th state championship after defeating College Station Friday. Their last title came in 2005.
Decatur shook off any nervousness early on, as they dominated the first set.
A Caroline Lowery kill gave the Lady Eagles an 8-3 lead forcing a Big Springs timeout. Decatur kept the throttle down maintaining a 14-11 lead midway through the match.
Lowery took over from there. The junior ended the set at the serve line, ending the first game on an 11-0 run, which included five of her three aces for the afternoon.
“My serve can be pretty inconsistent, so I just did what I needed to do and kept the ball in play,” Lowery said. “I’ve had some small runs before, but nothing like that.”
The Lady Eagles faced their lone bit of adversity in the second set. Big Spring jumped out to a 6-2 lead before Decatur started chipping away.
Just moments later Decatur closed the gap to 10-9, but the Lady Steers responded with a 6-3 run to force a Lady Eagle timeout.
Out of the break Decatur responded with a 6-0 run to take the lead back for good.
A Makayla Mayfield ace tied it at 16-16, and a Mayfield kill extended the lead to 18-16.
“We struggled in passing, and I think that was the key,” Big Spring coach Lynn Osborne said. “We could have done a better job. We had a few nerves. We didn’t play our best game of the season, but I’m very proud of what these girls have overcome this season.”
Big Spring fought back to 24-22, but a Mayfield kill put the second set away and took all the steam out of the Lady Steers.
“For being here for the first time in Decatur history, I thought we came out composed and realized it’s just another volleyball game,” Decatur coach Claire Benedict said. “In the second set, they started to attack our weakness and got some points against us, so we had to adjust.”
Decatur made the third game look like a formality. After only leading 9-7, the Lady Eagles ended the set on a 16-3 run, capped off by a Cooper Martin kill.
“We have enough weapons where they [Big Spring] had a hard time figuring out where the ball was coming from,” Benedict said. “Stormi does a good job of distributing the ball, and that makes five attackers, including herself, at all times.”
Lowery ended the afternoon with seven kills, seven digs and five aces. Martin added 13 kills and five digs.
Mayfield recorded nine kills, nine digs and two aces.
Leonard handed out 30 assists, had four digs and two kills.