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Northeast Times | January 16, 2022

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Byron Nelson wins 2019 UIL 6A Volleyball State Championship

Byron Nelson wins 2019 UIL 6A Volleyball State Championship

The Byron Nelson Bobcat volleyball team beat the Plano West Wolves in a five-set thriller at the 2019 UIL 6A Volleyball State Championship game on Saturday, Nov. 23, earning the first state title in the sport in both the school and Northwest ISD’s history.

Entering the state tournament with the best record among 6A teams, the Bobcats swept the Clemens Buffaloes in their state semifinal game in three sets on Friday, Nov. 22, to advance to the title game. In that semifinal game, the Bobcats won a tense first set of back-and-forth points for a 32-30 victory, followed by 25-22 and 25-14 set wins.

In the title game, the Bobcats won by scores of 21-25, 25-12, 22-25, 25-15, 15-7 to earn their first state championship. The team struggled against the Wolves in the first set before winning a dominant second set. After a close third-set loss, the Bobcats faced elimination but fired on all cylinders to take control of the final two sets in commanding victories.

Following the state final, media members voted Byron Nelson junior Charitie Luper as the title game’s MVP. Charitie has verbally committed to play for the UCLA Bruins following her last year as a Byron Nelson Bobcat in 2020-21. She was joined on the UIL’s 6A all-tournament team by junior teammate Payton Chamberlain, who has verbally committed to the Wyoming Cowgirls, and senior teammate Paige Flickinger, who signed a letter of intent to play for the LSU Tigers.

“We gave it our all. We all contributed,” Charitie told the Star-Telegram. “All I thought was, ‘No way, we just came back and beat Plano West,’ and it’s amazing. We represented our school well.”

To advance to the state tournament, the Bobcats first had to defeat the defending state champion Flower Mound Jaguars, the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last year. They did just that in the regional quarterfinal, ousting the Jaguars in a hard-fought four-set game.

Paige said last season’s tough loss to the Jaguars, which came as the Bobcats had consistently been ranked among the top three teams in the nation, served as motivation coming into this season.

“From off-season, [winning the state title was] our goal – we’re [thinking of the] 15-13 fifth set, that’s how we lost,” Paige said after the state title game, referring to last year’s playoff game against Flower Mound. “We had that in our mind, we had the pressure there.”

The victory marks the culmination of an accolade-filled season for the Bobcats, which includes top rankings in multiple national polls. In the week leading up to the championship game, for instance, USA Today ranked the Bobcats as the top team in the nation in its final poll of the 2019 season.

With their championship, the Bobcats finish the season with an overall record of 50-2, the first 50-win season in school history. The Bobcats are led by head coach Brianne Barker-Groth; she is assisted by coaches Amy Lilly, April Ryan, Whitney Key, Jennifer Ladusau and Missy Mitchell-McBeth.

To see photos from the state championship game on the district’s Flickr photo gallery, click here.