KATY - Towards the end of her speech with her team huddled around her, Sydney Gotcher leaned further into the circle with some final words.
"This is our year, we're going back-to-back baby."
Fulshear players cheered and screamed for joy at the final words of their coach before putting their hands in the air and breaking the final huddle of the night. The Chargers were celebrating a 3-0 (25-23, 25-19, 25-17) victory over Dripping Springs on Tuesday inside Katy ISD's Merrell Center, which catapulted them to the Class 5A State Championship match to face defending champ Lucas Lovejoy.
"It's awesome, it's something we talked about all year," Fulshear coach Sydney Gotcher said. "I think at the end of the year last year people were saying Lovejoy and Fulshear. We talked a lot about getting back but when it comes down to it nitty gritty and practice everyday and weight room on Saturday mornings, I'm really proud of how the kids have persevered."
THE CHARGERS WIL PLAY FOR THE 5A STATE CHAMPIONSHIP!!! @FULSHEARVB defeats @DSTigerVBall 3-0 (25-23, 25-19, 25-17) and will face Lucas Lovejoy for the title on Saturday at Noon | #txhsvb #UILState @lcisdathletics @FulshearABC @ellieechterr @AvaUnderwood16 @SportsDayHS @UIL_AD pic.twitter.com/GlCWVi72w6— vypehouston (@vypehouston) December 9, 2020
Fulshear on Saturday will try and become just the third program since 2000 to repeat in back-to-back years but do it in different classifications. The last team to do it was Decatur in 2014 and ironically prior to that was their opponent Lovejoy, which did it in 2013 moving from Class 3A to 4A.
Lovejoy is a brand in the volleyball - much like North Shore in football - and they have won a lot. In fact, Lovejoy enters Saturday seeking back-to-back titles for its program and the eighth overall but Fulshear is ready to claim its second-straight crown.
"It's crazy, I feel like I've been watching them every year at the state tournament that I've been coaching," Gotcher said. "They are just the ultimate volleyball team when you think of 5A volleyball. So, just the fact that we are facing [Lovejoy] is awesome but I think we can do it.
"I think the athletes we have on this team are going to be really hard to beat."
VYPE Postgame: @FULSHEARVB head coach Sydney Gotcher talks with VYPE after the win as @Fulshear_HS is heading to the Class 5A State Title Match! #txhsvb @FulshearABC @lcisdathletics @fulshear_fball @ellieechterr @AvaUnderwood16 @AlexisDacosta9 @UIL_AD pic.twitter.com/WowyDIvQUS— vypehouston (@vypehouston) December 9, 2020
The list of those is a long one.
A roster filled with the likes of LSU-signee Ellie Echter, Baylor-commit Alexis Dacosta, Texas A&M-commit Ava Underwood and a rising star in junior Brielle Warren, who is quickly making a name for herself and had the final serve to help send Fulshear to the title match.
"This is something that was a goal for us from the very beginning," Warren said. "So it was an expectation and something that drove us every single day and now that it is here we know that we have to keep pushing, keep working and stay disciplined so we can take that win home."
Warren is a part of a stellar junior class that includes the likes of Underwood, Dacosta, Skylar Voskhul and Greta Freeney, which has helped this senior class of seven have a chance at one more ring.
"These girls make it easy to work hard for them every single day," Warren said. "They're great people, they work hard, they set expectations and we push each other everyday. These seniors are amazing girls and so all of us on the team wanted to do it for them and we would do it over and over again."
Now three sets, that's all that stands between Fulshear and another state championship.
"We're ready," Gotcher said.