HOUSTON - Last year Cydryce McMillian coined the team motto "Level Up" for the 2019 season for her St. Agnes Academy Tigers.
A year later McMillian, who helped guide the Tigers to their first TAPPS State Championship since 2005 last season, was standing on the sidelines inside Houston Christian's gym watching as her team went toe-to-toe with Concordia Lutheran in the state semifinals again.
With a spot in the TAPPS 6A State Championship on the line, McMillian's squad made sure to "Defend the Den" and defeat the Crusaders 3-1 (23-25, 25-23, 25-22, 25-21) on Tuesday to punch its ticket.
"We're going to take state," McMillian said with a smile. "We've been talking about 11-21 all season. It's our turn to take state, go back-to-back and write the history books again."
VYPE 🏐 Highlights 🎥: @saa_vb defeated @clhstxathletics 3-1 on Tuesday in the @TAPPSvolleyball 6A State Semis. Amazing plays on both sides! Check out the highlights. #VYPECampus @ToyosiOnabanjo @BrookeFrazierr @SophiaKeene__ @StAgnesAcademy @saa_bball @KPRC2RandyMc @HTownHSS pic.twitter.com/tTKOgLRMjk— vypehouston (@vypehouston) November 18, 2020
St. Agnes Academy will play for the TAPPS 6A State Championship on Saturday at New Braunfels Christian Academy. The match is slated for a 7 p.m. first serve.
The Tigers on Tuesday were led by junior Sophie Agee's 13 kills and 20-plus digs, Kendall Harris chipped in 12 kills, Grace Webber had 34 assists and 12 digs and Toyosi Onabanjo had eight kills and six digs. Lexi Visintine had 17 digs, Emily Clark had 13 digs and Nicole Dworacyk had 15 assists.
Agee, who had a double double on Tuesday, calls heading back to the title match is "surreal".
"That feeling last year we indescribable," Agee said. "I can't wait to do that again with my team. I have a really good feeling about the match on Saturday.
"These seniors are so important to me, they've made such an impact on my life, it would mean the world to me to win another state title with them."
One of those seniors is Onabanjo, who is slated to sign with the University of Iowa volleyball team on Wednesday.
"We've been in the gym every single day working our butts off for two hours and coming out and trying to be the best we can on and off the court," Onabanjo said. "We've been a really close team."
VYPE Postgame: @saa_vb senior and soon to be @IowaVolleyball signee @ToyosiOnabanjo talks with VYPE after the win. @StAgnesAcademy going for 2nd straight state title on Saturday now. @GHVCA @TAPPSvolleyball @TAPPSbiz @HTownHSS @KPRC2RandyMc @KPRC2Vanessa #txhsvb #DefendTheDen pic.twitter.com/lcvn78pmWX— vypehouston (@vypehouston) November 18, 2020
Just like last year's motto "Level Up", the Tigers' rallying call of 2020 had been "DefendTheDen - one more win St. Agnes Academy would have done just that.
"Personally I think it means playing as a unit," Harris said. "Our coach always tell us to honor our opponent with our best effort. I think Defending the Den is really putting all our effort into it and playing as a unit collectively."