It was a sea of red as fans from all over East Texas descended upon the UT Tyler’s Herrington Patriot Center to watch the bi-district volleyball playoff between Van and Bullard on Tuesday.
The Lady Vandals walked away with the win after four sets (25-20, 18-25, 25-21, 25-23), advancing to the next round of playoffs eliminating the Lady Panthers.
BriAnn Thompson led the Lady Vandals with 17 kills, while Hallee Carter had 14 kills and 19 digs. Rebecca Rogers added 10 kills and 23 digs. Lavette Ashlyn led the team with 28 digs and Morgan Wilkerson led the team with 52 assists.
Van will now face either Crandall or Pleasant Grove in area play later this week.
After the playing of the national anthem by the Bullard pep band, the game began with the sounds of cheers and clapping filling the gym. Long volleys between the teams saw Van build a slight lead with a pair of spikes and an ace to make it 14-11. However, Bullard quickly worked back to tie the game at 15 points apiece but lost the lead after a player went into the net and the Lady Vandals had several blocks. Van stayed solid on the net on both offense and defense to hold on to take the first set 25-20.
The second set began much like the first with the score being tight. Bullard then opened up with a five-point run to break the tie for a 20-15 lead. The Lady Vandals worked hard to catch up scoring three straight points prompting a timeout by the Lady Panthers.
However, Bullard pulled out a 25-18 win in the second set. That would be the only set the Lady Vandals gave up as they held on to win the third set 25-21 before a tension-filled fourth set which saw the lead change hands several times.
In the fourth set, Bullard opened the set scoring three straight points to have a slight edge. Both teams fought hard back and forth to tie the game at five before Bullard overtook Van, going on a six-point run to make the score 11-5. However, the Lady Vandals were able to chip away at that lead and erase it. From there on out, scoring would remain tight as both teams were tied at 23 points. After a long volley, Van scored with a spike to put victory in their sights.
Fans stood up in the stands holding up one finger signifying the last point of the match. As a Bullard player hit the ball out of bounds, cheers erupted with a deafening crowd hugging and high-fiving as the Lady Vandals secured the win 25-23.