CATOOSA — The North Huskies are likely to start a petition that the Class 6A volleyball state championship game be held every year at the Catoosa Indian Activity Center.
The third-ranked Huskies claimed their second title in school history with a four set win over the top-ranked Broken Arrow Tigers (24-26, 25-19, 25-20, 25-22) Tuesday night.
North (27-6) won the school’s only other volleyball championship in 2015. That title tilt was also in Catoosa.
The Huskies started their run to the 2019 title with a pair of victories over Edmond-area rivals Monday at Claremore High School.
North opened with a clean sweep of sixth-ranked Deer Creek in the quarterfinals and then got past second-ranked Memorial in four sets in Monday’s semifinals.
Their five seniors led the way earlier in this week’s tournament — including outside hitter Kamryn Bacus, a commit to Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee — and in Tuesday’s championship the Huskies showed more of the same.
Libero Gracie Burleson played solid defense all night. Setter Sarah Holmes, middle blocker Lily DeGrace, and outside hitter Morgan Goerke came up with many big plays as well.
First-year head coach Jaclyn Burroughs said those seniors’ rising up to answer the call was the ultimate difference in her team’s championship run.
"Our seniors were incredible leaders," said Burroughs. "They allowed our underclassmen to feel comfortable. I can't say enough about how proud I am of all five of them."
North held the biggest lead of the first set at 19-16 and eventually found itself up 24-23. The Tigers (32-3), however, got the next three points to steal the frame.
Broken Arrow then jumped out to an early 5-2 advantage in the second set, but the Huskies used an 11-2 surge to stay in front the rest of the way. Julianne Li had a key service ace during that run.
The Tigers built leads of 11-5 and 12-6 in the third set, but North countered and eventually drew even at 13-13. Things were tied up again at 18-18, but an ace from Bacus began a 7-2 burst to close the frame.
The Huskies appeared to be in control when they took a 17-12 advantage in the fourth set. Broken Arrow answered though with five consecutive points.
North kept its poise, however, and eventually took the lead when back-to-back serves from Holmes that clipped the net resulted in points to make it 21-19.
Bacus then had a pair of kills to make it 23-21 and the final point came from DeGrace on another kill.
"The girls did a really good job overall," said Burroughs. "Our serve receive was solid and our offense and blocking was aggressive. Emotions can run high in state tournament games. We told them to remember to stay calm under pressure and focus."