The Edmond Memorial Bulldogs defeated Yukon 3-1 in the 6A regionals finals on Tuesday night to advance to the state tournament.
“Score again, score again!” Yelled head coach Natalie Murray amidst a 8-0 run from her team. Her encouragement rang throughout the gym all night during her team’s win.
“I don’t know, I’ve seen it done both ways. Some coaches are really successful not being as vocal.” Murray said. “For me I just feel like the more I’m into it, with the rapport I have with the girls, the more that they’re into it, so my energy adds energy to the game for them.”
Memorial needed the encouragement, when after a dominant 25-13 first set win, Yukon stormed back in the second.
The Millers controlled a majority of that second set. With it tied at 5-5, they slowly but surely worked themselves into a 14-10 lead. The Bulldogs attempted a comeback, cutting the lead to 15-14, but Yukon’s Brianna Worth jumpstarted another Miller run with a kill. Worth finished with 3 kills in the 25-18 second set victory for Yukon.
“What I said to them, honestly, is we need to start blocking,” Murray said, recalling what she told her Bulldogs following the second set.
Memorial junior Alexis Powell listened, finishing the third set with four blocks.
“Alexis Powell came through in the third set and just went crazy blocking, it changed the momentum.” Murray said. “It was huge, it was a momentum shift. It changed everything for us.”
Memorial's defense, led by Powell, was instrumental in the Bulldogs third set win, as was Regan Pendleton who finished the set with four kills. The set started with a Pendleton kill, and the Bulldogs never relinquished the lead, jumping ahead 13-3 quickly. The Millers scored a few more times, but Memorial’s defense held strong to give them a 25-10 win in the third set.
The fourth and final set was the closest of the night, as there were five lead changes early in the contest. Memorial jumped out to a quick 3-1 lead behind a Pendleton kill, but Yukon tied it up in the next two volleys. The teams traded blows for the next several rallies, tying it at 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, and 10. The only constant, was coach Murray’s encouragement throughout each volley.
With it tied at 10-10, the Bulldogs rattled off eight straight points, highlighted by a pair of Sophia Ayubi tip overs, to take an 18-10 lead. Yukon then scored three straight points, capped off by a Rachel Kitten kill. The Miller’s comeback was too little, too late as Bulldogs won 25-20 and 3-1 overall to advance to the state tournament.