GARLAND – Prosper dominated Grand Oaks in ways that hasn’t been seen this season. The Grizzlies came into Friday night with a 48-1 record, #1 in the Class 6A state rankings and #3 in the Max Preps national rankings.
Grand Oaks had dropped only seven sets in 49 previous matches. Its only loss – against TAPPS 6A champ Plano Prestonwood in the Volleypalooza semifinals in August.
Prosper took the first two sets and put Grand Oaks against the ropes, but the Grizz fought back to stun the Eagles in five, 26-28, 12-25, 28-26, 25-22, 15-12 in the Class 6A state semifinals at the Culwell Center.
Grand Oaks (49-1) will play for the 6A title at 5 pm Saturday.
Prosper ends the season 37-10.
The Eagles were making their third trip to state – first in Class 6A. The last time they had reached state – they won the 5A championship over Rouse in 2017.
Despite losing its 2-0 lead in the match, Prosper was able to come out in the fifth strong. Texas signee Ayden Ames, one of the top players in the country, got two kills. Audrey Hunt also scored a kill and Grand Oaks had three consecutive errors to give the Eagles a 6-1 lead.
But on the sixth point for Prosper, libero Sophie Bridges went down with an apparent injury. After being attended to for several minutes on the court, she was escorted off. It appeared she might have suffered a bloody nose, but coach Ashlee McCormick said after the game that Bridges actually got two front teeth knocked out.
Bridges finished with nine digs.
Prosper still controlled the fifth and went up 10-4 following a kill by Reese Renfrow, who recently signed her letter of intent with Lewis University in Illinois. But then Grand Oaks turned to Jaela Auguste, the Grizzlies’ 6-2 middle that’s headed to Florida.
Auguste had five kills during a 9-0 run to push Grand Oaks ahead at 13-10.
Sydney Thornton (Angelo State) stopped the run for Prosper and made it 13-11. That was followed by a Prosper error (14-11), kill by Prosper setter Hannah Beauford (14-12) before a second Prosper error gave Grand Oaks the reverse sweep and win.
Grand Oaks is at the state tournament for the first time.
The school was just founded in 2018.
Both teams traded runs in the first set. Prosper scored six in a row that turned a 5-4 deficit into a 10-5 lead. Ames had two kills and Renfrow had one during the stretch. But the Grizz answered with a 5-0 run and 10-1 run to go up 15-11 following a kill by Auguste.
Grand Oaks then had set point at 24-21 before Prosper scored the next four points to turn the tables. Thornton had a kill and Allie Duitsman served up an ace to give Prosper set point at 25-24. The two teams went back and forth and was tied at 26 before a Grizz error and Renfrow kill down the left baseline gave Prosper the 1-0 advantage.
Prosper dominated the second set.
The Eagles picked up 13 kills to only one hitting error to post a 0.500 percentage. The Grizz, meanwhile, had eight kills and five errors for a 0.107 hitting percentage.
Again, Grand Oaks entered the night having dropped just seven sets this season. Not once in 49 previous matches, had they dropped two sets in a row. The last time that happened came Oct. 7, 2022 against The Woodlands – a game they won in five.
Trailing 15-10 in the third set, while looking to put the game to bed, Prosper dug deep. Kills by Jayla Jackson and Hunt pulled the Eagles within three. Then after going down 19-15 and calling a timeout, a kill by Thornton and two errors on the Grizz cut it to 20-19.
Ames sent down a kill and Beauford picked up an ace to tie it at 22-22 forcing Grand Oaks to call for time. The Eagles had match point at 25-24 on kills by Ames and Renfrow, but couldn’t put the game away. Two kills by Samara Coleman tied it at 25 and then gave the Grizz a 26-25 lead. Thornton registered another kill to make it 26-26 before a kill and Prosper error kept Grand Oaks’ season alive. The fourth set saw 13 ties – the last coming at 21-21. Prosper committed three straight errors to give Grand Oaks the game and send it to a fifth set.
In her final HS game, Ames had 27 kills – six off from tying a 6A state tournament record – with 15 digs, three assists, four blocks and a 0.404 hitting percentage. Renfrow chipped in 13 kills and five digs, and Thornton added nine kills and two blocks.
Beauford had a strong night with 51 assists, five kills, 13 digs and three blocks.
Hunt added three kills, four digs and four blocks.
Duitsman finished with three aces and 12 digs.
Keely Harrington chipped in seven digs.