HS Volleyball Playoffs: CHAMPIONS! Grand Oaks Climbs the Mountaintop in First State Tournament Appearance

By: Jake Wilson
| Published 11/18/2023


GARLAND, TX -- Two Houston area teams squared off for the UIL 6A State Championship on Saturday, with the Grand Oaks Lady Grizzlies sweeping the Cinco Ranch Lady Cougars.

Both teams were equally deserving of their spots in the state championship game, with both teams going undefeated in district play and only six losses shared between the two.

In an exclusive interview with The Woodlands Online Sports, Grand Oaks Head Coach Morgan Rogers spoke on her team’s evaluation of the Lady Cougars.

“I knew that they were going to work to keep us out of our system,” said Rogers. “We knew our game plan coming in, and we had to fight.”

A battle opened the match, with both teams fighting for every point scored. Uncharacteristic misreads on serves put the Lady Grizzlies behind for the first three points, but a quick score put Grand Oaks back in the set.

The teams jockeyed each other for points after the contested start. Nine combined ties and a consistent lead that never grew higher than four kept the tension high for the fans who traveled to see their teams play.

Cinco Ranch attempted the first breakaway of the set when they mounted a 3-0 run that pushed them ahead 19-17. Grand Oaks responded to the run by calling a timeout to recuperate and cut off the Lady Cougar’s momentum.

Despite two points from Cinco Ranch, the Lady Grizzlies were able to pull even at 21 before the run continued, allowing Grand Oaks to reclaim the lead. As their opponent had done earlier, the Lady Cougars called a timeout to keep the set from slipping away.

The pauses did not stop Grand Oaks’ momentum to close the set. A light tap and the third kill of the set from Jaela Auguste punctuated the team effort from the Lady Grizzlies, winning the set 25-22.

Grand Oaks kept their strong momentum that ended the first set to open up the second. An ace and three kills built an immediate four-point lead for the Lady Grizzlies, necessitating a timeout before double-digits for Cinco Ranch.

“Offensive pressure has been our strength all season,” said Rogers. “We knew that we had to get everyone involved.”

But, the Lady Cougar’s break allowed the team to adjust, and they came out of the break with newfound confidence. Another battle ensued where six ties and three lead changes showcased the champion drive of both teams.

Cinco Ranch mounted another breakaway effort that mirrored the first set. A short run gave the Lady Cougars the lead, but another concerted run from Grand Oaks conjoined.

Timeouts called by both teams drove home the importance of finishing the second set strong, as neither team wanted to concede.

Following a Grand Oaks timeout at 22 points apiece, the Lady Grizzlies rattled off three straight points to claim the second set 25-23. Grand Oaks finished the set with 16 total kills, including the set winner from Caelyn Emmerling.

“It was their chemistry and their bond,” said Rogers on what fueled her team during finishes. “They are crazy together. They have a great time in the locker room, and I think that translates on the court.”

With the mountaintop in sight, the Lady Grizzlies looked to accelerate towards the top in the third set.

The acceleration started with a rapid 12-2 run from Grand Oaks that put the pressure on Cinco Ranch to save their season.

“I think [we] were sitting back a little bit and waiting for it to happen for us in the first and second,” said Rogers. “Then in the third, I think [we] could feel it, and they could taste it.”

Grand Oaks’ momentum continued to grow in tandem with the lead. The lead ballooned to 10 points at its highest, preventing the Lady Cougars from attempting a tie.

Kills from Halle Thompson and Samara Coleman brought the Lady Grizzlies closer to the trophy they had worked so hard for all season. Both players combined for _ kills on the night, demonstrating Grand Oaks’ offensive firepower.

Even with the team down by double-digits, the Cinco Ranch coaching staff kept their timeouts to themselves. Perhaps seeing that the Grand Oaks freight train was not stopping, the Lady Cougars continued to fight without pauses.

An ear-shattering cheer and a service error from Cinco Ranch crowned the Lady Grizzlies as state champions via a straight-set sweep in the team’s first appearance at the state tournament.

The 6A State Championship trophy embodies the hard work and dedication of the Lady Grizzlies, who ended their campaign with 50 wins to one loss.

“It's pretty emotional,” said a teary-eyed Rogers after the match. “I am grateful for the time we had and the team they built.”

Congratulations to the Grand Oaks Lady Grizzlies, the 6A State Champions of 2022-23.

Coverage was sponsored by Hal Watson Heating & Air Conditioning.

Comments •
Log In to Comment