GARLAND — The Southlake Carroll volleyball team’s freight-train run to the state tournament ended in derailment Friday.
Behind sophomore Abby Buckingham’s 31 kills and Amy Nettles’ game-changing eight kills, San Antonio Churchill knocked off the Dragons 25-19, 25-20, 15-25, 25-22 in a Class 5A state semifinal at the Curtis Culwell Center.
It was an avenging win for Churchill, which lost to Carroll earlier this season, and a crushing blow for the Dragons (48-2).
“We were not effective in hitting over their smaller players when their bigger hitter rotated back,” Carroll coach Arthur Stanfield said. “We tried making some changes by using a couple of different setters in our second spot, but I didn’t feel like were getting much out of that.”
Churchill (47-3) moves on to face unbeaten Conroe The Woodlands (44-0) at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Culwell Center.
The Chargers used timely play from Nettles and others to give their personnel management strategy its full effect.
It proved the difference as Buckingham had 71 chances at the net and finished the night with a .394 hitting percentage.
More devastating to Carroll, though, was that its offense couldn’t getting anything going when the 6-foot-4 Buckingham rotated to the back row.
“We always want Abby to start in an area that we have the best chance for her to stay on the front as long as she can,” Churchill coach Jo Anne Hultgren said. “Amy’s play was huge and we couldn’t have gone without it tonight. She’s the heart of this team, and she might only be 5-foot-4, but she’s got a big heart.”
Nettles had key kills to keep Churchill within striking distance while Buckingham had to play off the net.
The smaller Nettles delivered a big blow in the first set, knocking down a kill to give Churchill a 23-19 lead and bring Buckingham back to the net to finish things off.
In the second set, with the score tied at 19, Nettles knocked down two more kills and Buckingham served out the final four points for a 25-20 win.
The Dragons got 13 kills from Christen Sikora and 11 from Madison Drescher, but couldn’t capitalize after winning the third set.
Buckingham had 11 kills in the deciding final set.
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