GARLAND -- Aledo's blue-collar-like defense showed up big Thursday.
Raygan McLelland had 20 digs and Mykah Wilson had 18 in leading a back row that sent the Bearcats past Friendswood 21-25, 25-23, 25-23, 19-25, 15-11 and into the Class 4A state final.
Aledo (41-5) meets Lucas Lovejoy (47-4) at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Curtis Culwell Center.
"I don't think we're underdogs anymore," senior hitter Briana Sharratt said. "We have the confidence now, we've had a great season, we're hitting well, setting it well and playing defense."
That was never more apparent than Thursday when matched against Friendswood's power offense. Jillian Bergeson led her team with 30 kills, but Aledo was able to wrest away the crucial points and momentum.
When Sharratt knocked down Bergeson's slam to take a 5-4 lead in the deciding fifth set, it sent a message that points wouldn't come easily.
Later in the fifth, setter Mallory Powell chased a ball near the official's stand for a huge save, passing to the middle, where Sara Smith gave Aledo a 7-4 lead with a kill.
McLelland got into the offensive act for Aledo as well with 15 kills, most coming at crunch time late in the match.
She sparked the final run in the fifth set with a block and three kills to give Aledo a 10-7 lead.
Friendswood made a statement early, clipping the Bearcats with power in the first set. That drove Aledo coach Kathy Goings to mix up the defense and give Friendswood multiple looks.
Bergeson had seven kills and two aces in the first set before Aledo's defense toughened.
Sharratt was up to the challenge for Aledo, recording 22 kills and four blocks for the match.
We welcome your comments on this story, but please be civil. Do not use profanity, hate speech, threats, personal abuse, images, internet links or any device to draw undue attention. Comments deemed inappropriate will be removed and repeated abusers will be banned. NOTE: If you log in using your Twitter account, your comments will be signed using the name on your Twitter profile, NOT your Twitter user name. Read our full comment policy.