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Lovejoy rolls past Fulshear and into 12th state volleyball title match

GARLAND – Lovejoy continued its dominance at the UIL state volleyball tournament after a resounding sweep over Fulshear 25-21, 25-17, 25-17 in the Class 5A state semifinals on Friday at the Culwell Center.

The Leopards (33-10) will play Liberty Hill in the 5A final at 3 pm Saturday.

The win was the program’s 21st all time at the state tournament. Lovejoy has won NINE state championships in 12 previous appearances. The title game will be the program’s 12th all time.

Gentry Barker and Skylar Jackson combined for 18 kills and 18 digs.

Yale signee Bethanie Wu finished with 31 assists, six digs and three aces. McKenna Brand (UConn) chipped in 22 digs while Shelby Burriss (Princeton) added six kills and a team-high four total blocks.

Anna Barr was third on the team with seven kills along with a pair of blocks.

Fulshear finished 40-5. The Chargers, making their third appearance at state, were Class 4A state champs in 2019. They lost in straight sets to Lovejoy in the 5A final during the 2020 season.

Lovejoy held Fulshear to a mere 0.170 hitting percentage.

The Chargers also committed 16 hitting errors and nine service errors.

Lovejoy opened in 2006 and its first volleyball season came in 2007. In only their second varsity season, the Leopards won a state title – the first of five in a row under head coach Ryan Mitchell, now at Plano Prestonwood.

Current head coach Natalie Puckett is in her third season leading the Leopards. She was an assistant under Mitchell when Lovejoy won a title in 2020. Additionally, she played for Mitchell and helped bring home the first three state titles in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

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