Burton volleyball beats Snook

Burton libero Mackenzie Wilke serves during the Panthers' regional final volleyball match against Snook on Saturday in Brenham.

Maria McIlwain/The Eagle

BRENHAM — Even before taking the court Saturday, Snook had already made school history. But the Lady Jays’ playoff run ended in the Class 2A Region IV finals, as they lost to Burton 25-15, 25-18, 25-18.

“I’m definitely proud of our girls,” Snook head coach Jessica Carlson said. “This is the farthest we’ve ever come in school history, so that’s an accomplishment already for us. They competed. They left everything out on the court. You can’t ask for anything else.”

First-year Panthers’ head coach Jessica Parish was “speechless” after the win and felt her team was motivated by the familiar foe.

“I knew my girls could do it especially if they fought like they did and like they can, I knew they could do it,” she said.

The teams split their District 25-2A matches earlier this season.

“We knew what they were going to be like,” Carlson said. “Tonight, it was just who wanted it more. They competed. They gave us their best effort, we gave it our best effort, and unfortunately for us, we came out with the loss.”

Burton took an early lead in each set. The Panthers kicked off the match with three unanswered points before an Allie McMath kill put the Lady Jays (28-6, 11-1) on the board.

Burton responded with three straight points, growing its lead with another run. Snook battled back with a three-point swing to make it a six-point game, but Burton pulled away.

Both coaches knew defense would be at a premium, and Parish was proud of her team’s effort. The Panthers recorded 58 digs as a team, led by Kyndal Coufal’s 20 and Holli Baker’s 12. Alex Countouriotis led Burton at the net with two blocks.

“Defense was huge,” Parish said. “[Allie and Jill McMath], they have great hits, and we had to put a hand on them. It was tough.”

Coufal also led the Panthers with 20 kills, while Baker recorded 37 assists. Emily Harmel also finished with double-digit kills (10), while Sidney Smith recorded two aces.

The Panthers opened the second set with a lead, but a block by Nyasia Barned tied the game. After Burton reclaimed the lead, the Lady Jays tied the set and took their first lead of the day. Burton managed to tie the set twice, but each time, Allie McMath gave Snook the lead back. The Panthers reclaimed the lead for good with four unanswered points before Snook called a timeout. After the break, a Snook point made it a two-point game again, but Burton responded with another four straight points. The teams traded points before the Panthers won on consecutive points.

“We knew they had quite a few offensive weapons, so we needed to step up on defense,” Carlson said. “We had a couple missed opportunities that I think hurt us and kind of killed our momentum.”

The Lady Jays tied the final set twice before Burton snatched the lead with a 3-0 run. Snook and the Panthers trade points, but Burton clung to its lead. Snook climbed within one point but the Lady Jays couldn’t tie it up. Burton extended its lead with another 3-0 run, and after a Snook timeout and point, added six more unanswered points, effectively punching its ticket to the state tournament, which starts Wednesday in Garland.

Iola making return trip to state tournament

Despite dropping the first set to 22-2A rival North Zulch, defending 2A champion Iola will return to the state tournament thanks to a 16-25, 25-21, 27-25, 25-23 comeback victory over the Bulldogs on Saturday at Lobo Coliseum in Longview.

Iola beat North Zulch twice in district play but had to rally the third time around.

“I was impressed with the way they stood up to the pressure,” Iola coach Jamie McDougald said. “After the first game we lost, they really dug in and stood up to the pressure and did a great job.”

Jessika Fairbanks and Tatum Nevill led Iola in kills with 11 and nine, respectively.

McDougald said libero Allie Johnson, who led the team in digs, and setter Maggie Webb played key roles in the victory.

Iola will play in the state semifinals Wednesday.

NOTES — Leon fell to East Bernard 25-13, 23-25, 25-21, 20-25, 15-10 in the 3A Region III final Saturday. Leon finished its season at 38-7 overall after going 12-0 in 18-3A.

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