St. Agnes Fights To The Finish; Falls Just Short Of Back-To-Back State Crowns

Fans enjoyed the latest chapter of the longstanding Houston vs. Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex rivalry at New Braunfels Christian Academy. It occurred on the night of Saturday November 21, 2020 and featured Argyle Liberty Christian School and Houston St. Agnes Academy in an instant classic TAPPS 6A state championship match at Texas' highest private school volleyball stage.

Houston St. Agnes Academy ultimately lost to Argyle Liberty Christian School in five sets, but it's thankful for the driving force that helped it reach the season's final game.

"We're a really close team," said Houston St. Agnes Academy senior and 2021 Iowa commit Toyosi Onabanjo. "And I'm just happy I was able to fight to the end with them."

Houston St. Agnes Academy entered the volleyball match as the defending state champ, but it took the Tigers some time to warm up. Argyle Liberty Christian School took advantage by scoring the first three points of the opening set and taking a 9-4 lead a few minutes later. The Warriors later held off Houston St. Agnes Academy 25-22 in the first frame after a late surge flipped the score from 21-15 to 22 all.

Argyle Liberty Christian School tried to top that success in the second set, but Houston St. Agnes Academy bounced back to tie the match. The Warriors took early leads at 4-1 and 9-7, but the Tigers answered with a 7-0 stretch that gave them a 14-9 advantage. The Warriors did storm back with a 10-5 surge that tied the set at 19, but a kill by Sophie Agee gave the Houston team the late period lead and a key block helped tie the match with an identical 25-22 score.

Houston St. Agnes Academy rode the wave of momentum and overcame tests in the third frame. First, the Tigers used a 5-2 run to flip a 4-3 deficit to a 8-6 lead. Then, they answered the tied score at eight with a 14-6 run that made it a 22-14 set. And after the Warriors recorded a 6-0 rally that cut the lead to 22-20, the Tigers hung on for a 25-21 result after Onabanjo's kill and Agee's block resulted in two important points late.

Argyle Liberty Christian School may have trailed in the match, but it wasn't worried about the deficit. It ultimately won the final two sets to complete the comeback. The Warriors started to change the direction of the game when it produced an 18-7 run and a 25-14 win after an early 7-7 battle in the fourth set.

Then, it was time for the match's decisive fifth set. Luckily for fans in the stands, they had a lot to cheer about because the teams saved the best for last. Late in the frame, the score was knotted up at 9, 10, 11 and 13. Argyle Liberty Christian School then put its foot on the gas pedal to take the lead for good at 14-13 and hung on when Agee sent her kill attempt out of bounds.

"I told them in the fifth set, we went down battling, we went down fighting [and] we took the big swing," Houston St. Agnes Academy varsity volleyball coach Cydryce McMillian said of the message to her players after the match.

"That's what I ask of them," she continued. "It's always to compete, always to battle and play to win. I think we did that. At the end of it, it was a tight game. They were up, we came back and we fought. It didn't go at the end the way we wanted it, but the journey has been worth the ride. It's been fun with these girls. They've really committed and sacrificed a lot this year. I'm so proud of this team."

That hard work and dedication paid off in two notable ways. First, Houston St. Agnes Academy finished as the 2020 TAPPS 6A volleyball state runner-up. Then, four of its players (Toyosi Onabanjo, Sophie Agee, Brooke Middleton and Kendall Harris) were named to the 2020 TAPPS all-tournament team.

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