High School Volleyball

Texas power programs do battle in state semis

TWHS Skylar Scott. Photo by Jerry Baker

Originally appeared on Vype.com.

So, can the Hebron Hawks be knocked off their perch a top Class 6A volleyball?

The Hawks have won back-to-back state titles. The last team to do that was… The Woodlands. The Woodlands and Hebron do battle Friday night in the UIL State Semis in Garland, Texas, and one of these power programs will be the odd-on favorites to win the Class 6A title.

The Highlanders and Hawks faced off in the John Turner Classic earlier this season and battle it out in a best of three sets, where the Hawks won.

“It was a crazy competitive match,” The Woodlands Terri Wade said. “When we watch the film over, it was a battle of great players. This is going to be about who is going to make the least amount of errors.”

The Woodlands is led by setter Sophie Walls (Miami-signee) and hitters Courtney Heiser (Texas State), Dylan Maberry (LSU) and AJ Koele (Mississippi State). The defensive star is Georgia Murphy (Oregon) along with Skylar Scott.

“We have three hitters with over 400 kills a piece,” she said. “We run a fast offense and Sophie never comes off the floor. She runs the offense and is aggressive. No one compete like her. She’s a vocal leader and has improved so much over the past three years.”

This is Wade’s first state final appearance at The Woodlands and is trying to quell her excitement.

“Just the anxiety of being competitive is what fuels me,” she said. “We aren’t going to talk about what Hebron does. We just worry about what we can control. We have faced some great teams this season, so we are ready.”

Hebron counters with Minnesota-commit Adanna Rollins (469 kills) and Emma Clothier (351 kills) up front and San Diego-signee Annie Benbow on defense. The Hawks have a lofty No. 2 ranking in the state of Texas and have won four title over the past 12 years.

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Houston's offense once again obliterated Baltimore in Wednesday's finale. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Owners of a nine-game winning streak, the Astros tried to keep the train rolling to make it double digits and complete the three-game sweep of the Orioles in Baltimore. Not only would they get the win, but they also did it by dominating on both sides of the ball again in a one-sided shutout.

Final Score: Astros 13, Orioles 0

Astros' Record: 46-28, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (6-3)

Losing Pitcher: Thomas Eshelman (0-1)

Houston keeps mashing

Unlike Tuesday's game which ended 3-1 in a much closer affair, the finale on Wednesday was once again a lopsided affair like Monda's opener, favoring the Astros. Houston once again put up double-digit runs in an offensive explosion. It started right off the bat, with three runs scoring in the top of the first on a two-RBI double by Carlos Correa and an RBI single by Kyle Tucker to grab a 3-0 lead.

Yuli Gurriel extended it to 4-0 with a two-out RBI single in the second, then Jose Altuve made it a six-run game with a two-run blast in the top of the fourth. Michael Brantley joined in with an RBI single in the top of the sixth, then Yordan Alvarez led off a four-run seventh with a solo bomb before a three-run homer by Abraham Toro made it 11-0.

Urquidy cruises through seven scoreless

Jose Urquidy was cruising all the while, allowing just three baserunners over that span, a double to start his night, which he erased, then a one-out walk in the second and leadoff single in the sixth. He returned at the bottom of the seventh with a manageable pitch count, where he'd erase a one-out single to keep Baltimore scoreless. With the insurmountable lead, he'd be given the rest of the night off. His final line: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 84 P.

Astros complete the sweep and grab tenth straight win

Chas McCormick, who came off the bench defensively in the bottom of the seventh, made it a twelve-run lead with a one-out solo homer in the top of the eighth, then later Abraham Toro notched his fourth RBI with a run-scoring single to make it 13-0. Brandon Bielak took over for Urquidy in the bottom of the eighth, and after loading the bases with no outs, was able to escape with a strikeout and double play.

Ralph Garza Jr. was Houston's third pitcher, wrapping things up at the bottom of the ninth. He erased a one-out walk and a single with a double play to end the game, giving Houston the three-game sweep and extending their winning streak to ten games as they continue to look like baseball's best team.

Up Next: The next stop on this road trip for Houston is Detroit, where they will kick off a four-game set with the Tigers on Thursday at 6:10 PM Central. The pitching matchup for the opener will be Luis Garcia (5-4, 2.82 ERA) for Houston and Jose Urena (2-7, 5.79 ERA) for Detroit.

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