Dripping Springs tops Champion to clinch state tourney berth

UPDATE – 7:00 p.m. 

The Dripping Springs Tigers volleyball team is state tournament bound for the first time in three years.

On Saturday, Dripping Springs outlasted the Boerne Champion Chargers in a hard fought 27-29, 25-16, 25-23, 25-20 win in the Class 5A, Region IV final at the South San Athletic Complex.

Dripping Springs Tiger Avery Kalsu (12) receives a hug from Madison Certain during the team’s postgame celebrations Saturday at the South San Athletic Complex. (Photo by Moses Leos III)

With the win, Dripping Springs’ volleyball program clinches its first state tournament berth since claiming the 5A crown in 2015; it also marks the program’s third appearance at state in the last five seasons.

Dripping Springs joins Lucas Lovejoy, Humble Kingwood Park and Canyon Randall as the final four teams in Class 5A. The 5A state semifinals will be played Nov. 16 at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland. Pairings and game times have not yet been determined.

View photos from Dripping Springs’ run in the Regional tournament here. 

EARLIER 

SAN ANTONIO – For the first time in four seasons, the Dripping Springs Tigers volleyball team will play for the right to go to the state tournament.

Nine kills from senior Madison Certain and eight kills from junior Mackenzie Murray was enough to help Dripping Springs sweep the Gregory-Portland Wildcats 25-23, 25-16, 25-19 in Friday’s 5A, Region IV semifinal at the South San Athletic Complex.

Dripping Springs (34-15) advances to play former district foe Boerne Champion in the Region IV final Saturday, Nov. 10 at 1 p.m. at the South San Athletic Complex. The Tigers seek to punch its first ticket to the state tournament since winning the 5A title in 2015.

Early on, the Tigers overcame two deficits en route to securing a hard-fought first set win over G-P. Michael Kane, Dripping Springs head coach, said experience of getting everyone’s best effort in the first frame during their playoff run was helpful.

The ability to keep G-P’s middle blockers out of system also played a key role for success on the night, Kane said. G-P’s offense was limited to junior Chloe Rodriguez and sophomore Kandice Rowe, who combined for 20 of the team’s 25 kills.

“I felt like we did that pretty well. They didn’t get a chance to get the balls to their middles as much as they would have liked to,” Kane said.

On the opposite side, Kane said the Tigers were adept at playing out of system during the match. He lauded his team’s ability to maintain its composure, while also spreading out the wealth on offense.

Dripping Springs junior Mackenzie Murray (9) attempts to block a Gregory-Portland player from scoring a kill. (Photo by Moses Leos III)

“That’s one thing that’s made us successful is we’re not one dimensional. We have strong middles and outsides that can hit. Both of our setters can play all the way around,” Kane said. “We do a good job of spreading things around.”

Dripping Springs held momentum in the second frame and jumped out to a 10-6 lead. The Tiger advantage swelled to 17-11 via a key 6-0 run. An aggressive mindset on serving helped to keep teams out of system, while also preventing big runs from opponents, Kane said. Such mentality allowed Dripping Springs to outlast G-P in the final set.

Four Tiger players combined for nine aces in the match. On defense, junior Avery Kalsu finished with 17 of the team’s 60 total digs.

“That’s our game plan is keeping people out of system, and we work on being out of system all the time. We don’t panic, we tend to be comfortable, which allows us to be successful,” Kane said.

Facing a short timeframe isn’t unfamiliar territory for the Tigers, Kane said. With the program having reached the regional tournament in five of the last seven years, Kane said the team can “totally handle it.”

“We’re going to go home, carb up and come ready tomorrow to get after it,” Kane said.

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