THE WRAP: Katy, Fulshear, Klein advance to Volleyball Regional Championships

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It was a busy night of volleyball playoff action.

Regional Semifinals for both Class 6A Region III and Class 5A Region III were going down, while Class 6A Region II was being played elsewhere.

Katy defeated Clear Springs, Fulshear defeated Magnolia in a five-set thriller, Klein advanced to its second-straight Regional Final with a win over Sachse and The Woodlands and Friendswood saw their season's come to an end.

VYPE's Joshua Koch and Matt Malatesta spanned the city. Here is The Wrap!

Katy advances to Regional Final for first time since 1993, defeat Clear Springs 3-1

KATY - It has been 27 years.

When a team hasn't been to the Regional Finals in that long, things are bound to be said about the historic run.

"Like, 1993, that's crazy. People are like, 'that's when my dad graduated'," Katy junior Maddie Waak said. "I think that's really cool that we're making history for our school."

Waak and company are indeed making history.

The 2020 version of the Katy volleyball team is just the third in program history to reach the Regional Finals, after defeating Clear Springs – which was playing in only its second Regional Semifinal ever – on Tuesday 3-1 (13-25, 25-16, 25-22, 25-22) at the Merrell Center.

"They are very committed," Katy coach Karen Paxton said. "We asked for them to commit themselves back in January. They always work hard in the offseason but this summer they were there every day. Coming to skills stuff and every practice has been super productive since then."

Katy had to battle back multiple times in the match to fend off a tough Clear Springs team, which finishes the year 17-8 overall.

The Tigers' roster is filled with experience, including a group of seven seniors, which have put it all on the line to reach this point.

"It took a lot of blood, from just falling and it took a lot of tears," Key said with a chuckle. "And knowing our game and playing our game."

Below the seniors is a group of juniors that have also bought in.

This team bought into the idea of "playing in December", Waak said and for Jordan Gamble the belief that they could make this kind of run came from the coaches at the very beginning of the playoffs.

Now, to get the program to its first State Tournament appearance since 1968 – they have to go through fellow Katy ISD power Seven Lakes.

"This is very exciting," Gamble said. "We know their tendencies and they know our tendencies. I feel like that makes it that much more of a battle."

Paxton added: "We couldn't have picked a better venue or matchup. I think it just speaks volumes to how competitive our district is and you've got to play your best when you're playing Katy ISD volleyball."

Katy will face Seven Lakes on Friday at 5 p.m. inside the Merrell Center with a spot in the 2020 UIL State Volleyball Tournament on the line.

Fulshear defeats Magnolia in five-set thriller

The Fulshear Chargers won state in Class 4A last season. What would happen as Chargers would move up a classification?

Entering the Class 5A Region III Regional Semis, their only losses were to Concordia Lutheran, The Woodlands, Katy and Seven Lakes. Outside of state-ranked Concordia Lutheran at the private school level, Fulshear's only other losses came to Class 6A teams who reached the Regional Semis.

On paper, this looked like a blowout. Four Division 1 stars for Fulshear -- but it isn't always the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of fight in the dog.

Magnolia fought… and fought… and fought..

But eventually Fulshear would take down Magnolia to advance to the Regional Finals against College Station, which defeated Friendswood 3-2 on Tuesday and now are one step away from the Class 5A state tourney.

Magnolia took some haymakers by the defending state champs in Game 1, but won 25-21.

The wake-up call came loud and clear as Fulshear ran off two-straight games. 25-10 and 25-13.

Who flipped the switch?

In the Game 2, Fulshear got it going and Ava Underwood provided some juice. After the 5-foot-5 setter blocked a kill by Magnolia's Sydney Gentry, the Texas A&M-commit reminded Magnolia who were the defending state champs… with a little too much juice. She received a yellow card, but it ignited the Chargers win in Game 2.

Magnolia couldn't match the power of LSU-commit Ellie Echter, Baylor-commit Alexis Dacosta and Purdue-commit Brielle Warren in Game 3, but…

The Bulldogs rebounded in Game 4 with a ton of heart and defense. Faith Lynch did a tremendous job setting up Brynn Botkins, Ellie Anderson, Sydney Gentry and Marissa Moffatt. Kaylyn Fojt had some huge digs as well.

In Game 5, it was fitting for senior leader Echter to put down the final point for Fulshear to with 15-13.

Friendswood falls short to College Station, 3-2

Friendswood fought to the very end.

The Mustangs entered Tuesday seeking a third-straight trip to the Regional Finals and potentially a second-straight bid to the state tournament. But a "scrappy" College Station team stood in the way.

In a five-set thriller, Friendswood saw its season come to an end in a 3-2 (25-16, 25-27, 20-25, 27-25, 10-15) loss, putting their final mark on the year at 23-4 overall.

"College Station is a super scrappy team," Friendswood coach Sarah Paulk said. "They made no mistakes. If we weren't putting the ball down with first-ball kills, they were going to fight, scrap and get the points. They just didn't stop. They fought hard."

College Station moves on to the Regional Finals for the first time since 2013 and will face defending Class 4A State Champion Fulshear, which beat Magnolia 3-2 on Tuesday.

For Friendswood, it's a senior class that leaves after an ultra-successful run headed by Ashlyn Svoboda, who registered 1,000th career kill, finishing with 16 in her final match and also had 25 digs.

"Ashlyn has done so much for our program. She is a great volleyball player and leader," Paulk said about the Nichols State signee. "She does the things that are hard. She holds her teammates accountable and she does it all. She will never be replaced."

Alessandra Meoni, who moved from Italy two years ago, finished her final match with the Mustangs with a team-leading 27 kills and 14 digs. Sarah Sitton finished with 11 kills, Kate Bueche had 19 digs and six kills, Cierra Pesak had 33 digs to lead the team. Megan Hubbard finished with 46 assists in the five-setter.

As Paulk looks towards the future there are some key returners that will be back in 2021 including Hubbard, Sitton and Bueche.

"The expectation is to be here and to make it this far," Paulk said about the culture at Friendswood. "So, when you are able to set those standards it's a great thing."

Class 6A Region II Wrap

Entering the day, Klein and The Woodlands were the last two programs from Houston standing in Region II. The Highlanders faced off against Wylie, while Klein took on Sachse.

The Woodlands, in its 9th-straight Regional Semifinals appearance, saw its season come to an end with a 3-0 (17-25, 20-25, 17-25) loss to Wylie. The Woodlands finishes the year with an overall record of 23-4.

Klein battled Sachse in an eventual four-set thriller. After losing the first set 27-25, the Bearkats came back to win the next three in a row to take the match 3-1. This is the second-straight year for Klein to advance to the Region II-6A Final.

Klein will face Wylie with a spot in the UIL State Volleyball Tournament on the line later this week.