Volleyball: K-Park advances to state tournament for the first time in school history
Elizabeth Overmyer and the Kingwood Park Lady Panthers huddled up after dropping the second set of the Region III-5A final to Friendswood on Saturday.
The senior captain remembered coming up short last season in Region III-5A final and wasn’t going to settle for the same result — the Lady Panthers were ready to make school history.
“We talked about everything in the huddle after the second set,” the junior outside hitter said. “We wanted to show them that we were the better team. We wanted to be the more confident team. We came to the fifth-round last year, and it meant so much to get back. We didn’t want to leave here again with a loss.”
Overmyer had five kills, five blocks and five digs as K-Park defeated Friendswood in four sets 25-21, 24-26, 25-21, 25-17 at Delmar Fieldhouse to punch their ticket to the state tournament for the first time in school history.
“The mission was to get to state, and so that was accomplished,” said K-Park head coach Kelly Miser, who fell to her knees after the game-winning point. “That was the moment that we all have been working for up until this point. It was just the relief of ‘we made it, we did it and we reached our goal.’ It was amazing.”
On Sunday, the University Interscholastic League will release the matchups for the state tournament, which will be held at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland. K-Park (29-9), Randall, Drippings Springs and Lovejoy will compete in the Class 5A state tournament.
The Class 5A state semifinal matches will be played at 1 p.m. or 3 p.m. on Friday with the winner advancing to the state final at 3 p.m., Saturday.
Miser reminded the Lady Panthers to not forget what got K-Park to the Region III-5A final after the second set.
“We got a little frustrated in the second set,” Miser said. “So I just reminded them that they’re a team. Everything that we do at this point is for the team. They lifted each other up, and that’s how we were going to be victorious in this situation.
It was Alia Williams’ kill that was assisted by setter Andie Unwin that sealed the win for the Lady Panthers in the fourth set.
The Lady Panthers dog piled on the floor after making school history.
“That was the coolest moment of my career,” Miser said. “That made all the hard work, long hours and everything that they put in it all worth while.”
Williams finished with 11 kills, two blocks and one dig. Unwin added 27 assists with 11 kills for the Lady Panthers. Erika Williams had 10 kills and three blocks.
“This is so special for our team to make school history,” Overmyer said. “Some of us have been playing volleyball together since we were 10 years old. We walked into practice the first day and said that we wanted to go to state. All the workouts, practicing and hard work that we have done this year has paid off. Now, that we’re going we still have work to do to accomplish our goal.”
Friendswood finishes the season 33-16.
“They were a tough team and came out fighting,” Miser said. “It was really nerve wrecking early on and I wasn’t sure how it was going to go. And I don’t think anyone else knew either. We appreciate the battle, and I’m glad that we came up on top.”
The Lady Mustangs were led by Lauren Hubbard, who knocked down 12 kills while adding 15 digs.
Ashlyn Svoboda, Makensy Manbeck and Elle McGown combined for 22 kills for Friendswood, who knocked off back-to-back Region III-5A champion Rouse on Friday night.
K-Park will be back on the practice floor on Monday preparing for its first ever Class 5A state semifinal.
“The mindset it right now is to enjoy this win for a day at least,” Miser said. “We will get back to doing what we have done all year and practice Monday. We have to get our mind right and prepare for a higher level of competition when we get there.”