Brandeis advances to 6A Volleyball National Finals

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GARLAND – Brandeis was dangerously close to letting the momentum slip away.

Trailing 15-14 in the fourth set, senior outside hitter Jalyn Gibson took serve and landed an ace. Junior outside hitter Emma Halstead followed with three kills that created cushion in a tight set and the Broncos took a 25-18, 25-21, 19-25, 25-21 win over Bridgeland in a half. Class 6A state final Friday at the Culwell Center.

Halstead netted eight of his 22 fourth-set tiebreak wins to secure it.

“We knew it wouldn’t be easy and this team (Bridgeland) played a phenomenal game,” said Brandeis coach Maddie Williams. “I think we just dug deep and I think Emma, ​​at point one, was like ‘Not today. (Losing) does not happen today. We worked too hard for this and we got through it together.

The Broncos (46-2) advance to the 6A State Final against Keller (32-12), winner of the five-set semifinal against Fort Bend Ridge Point, at 5 p.m. Saturday.

Gibson said the moment the Broncos ran on his serve was a critical moment.

“I just had the mentality to push for points because I knew we were neck and neck,” Gibson said. “I wanted to push points so we could have a margin of error and that was really important.”

The Broncos, making their state tournament debut, allowed the third set to slip away. Brandeis closed it at 23-19 before Bridgeland secured it.

Although Brandeis didn’t win that set, Halstead closed the gap in fourth.

“I think we started playing like us again and I knew it would be a great moment for us,” Halstead said. “Even though we didn’t finish the third as we wanted, we got the fourth and we have the energy for that.”

Brandeis senior setter Carlee Pharris said: “We knew it was a big stretch at one point and we knew we had to come back and have that energy and fight to show it wasn’t going to happen. .”

Gibson finished with 18 kills and 22 digs. Bears coach Verena Khalil thought her team defended her well.

“Our defense worked hard and our blocking improved throughout the game,” Khalil said. “We started to read it better and started to move a little further on it. They’re probably the first team we’ve faced this year that squeezes the ball this tight again and again and again.

Pharris, who has 47 assists, said moving the ball was essential. She said training preparation came in handy on Friday. As the Bears focused on Gibson, Pharris fed the ball to Halstead and right lead hitter Leila Smalls, who had 10 kills.

“I was able to trust my hitters and I know anyone can put the ball away,” Pharris said.

Pharris finished with 19 digs, along with senior libero Dani Gray.

Mallorie Garner had 20 kills for the Bears (39-12). Alice Volpe had 27 digs and Brooke Adams had 21 assists.

The Broncos are looking to become the first San Antonio team to win a state championship in the highest UIL ranking since Clark in 2003.

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