GARLAND – Gunter and Bushland met at the UIL state tournament for the fourth consecutive year on Saturday – the third time in a row playing for the Class 3A state championship.
Both the Tigers and Falcons have given us some epic results and Saturday’s title match was no different.
But Bushland repeated history from 2020 and 2021, and took down Gunter in four sets, 25-22, 25-23, 20-25, 25-23 to win the program’s seventh title overall and third in four seasons.
Gunter finally got to the Falcons last season to win its first title.
The Tigers end the season 35-12.
Bushland (43-6) had three players with 10+ kills (Abby Howell 14, Lilyann Shannon 12, Kenzie Sims 10). Sims added 30 assists, 15 digs and four aces, and was voted state champ MVP.
Avery Ramos and Ava Permenter chipped in 20 and 10 digs, and Jayce Ornelas and Ambree Hatfield combined for 13 kills. Ansley Tiffin-Fernandes added 16 assists and five digs.
Gunter was led by Chloe Johnson’s game high 21 kills along with 12 digs.
Madison Smith and Makena Fady added 16 and 10 kills.
Brelee Mauldin led all players with 43 assists along with seven digs and five kills.
Aubrey Burchfield and Kinley Johnson combined for 27 digs.
The Falcons controlled the first set early on until Gunter scored four straight points to go up 13-10 following a Johnson kill and Bushland error. The Tigers led 20-14 on a Kinley Johnson ace and 21-15 on a Kylee Keller kill.
But Bushland responded.
The Falcons scored the next nine points and a Hatfield kill on set point hit the court for a 1-0 lead.
The second set gave fans 12 ties before Howell sent down a Tiffin-Fernandes assist for the win. The third set only had four ties, but Gunter was able to finish on top. A kill from Chloe Johnson gave the Tigers a 23-18 lead. Two more kills by Johnson pulled Gunter within 2-1 in the match.
Gunter rallied in the fourth and went on a run to go up 14-10, 15-11 and 16-11.
A pair of kills by Mauldin and Smith and a Bushland error gave the Tigers a five-point cushion. The lead went to six at 19-13 on another kill by Chloe Johnson before five straight points by the Falcons made it 19-18. The set was tied at 22 and 23 before Bushland got a service ace by Tiffin-Fernandes and kill on match point from Sims to give the program’s its seventh UIL state championship.