Tompkins Volleyball Reaches First State Final

By Terry Carter

Inner strength and tenacity propelled Tompkins to a 5-set volleyball victory over Keller on Friday night in the 6A Volleyball State Semifinals at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland.

The 3-2 win transformed the Lady Falcons (42-4) to place where they were battling and tied 20-20 in set four while trailing 2-1 in sets won. At that time, three consecutive Tompkins errors had allowed Keller (33-12) to claw back into a tie after trailing 20-17.

Tompkins head volleyball coach Allison Merrell smartly called timeout and regrouped the team, which was feeling fatigue and pressure being only five points from elimination.

However Tompkins scored the next two points on Indian hitting errors before Tompkins standout OH Tendai Titley suffered an error to make 22-21.

Then Titley quickly regained her momentum, knocking down two of her match-high 19 kills in a row to bring the Lady Falcons within one point of forcing the grand finale, set five. Tompkins MH Callie Funk notched the final kill of the fourth set, tying the match 2-2, with a 25-22 score.

Tompkins won the opening set with a rally after trailing 19-16. After a Tompkins timeout, senior OH extraordinaire Cindy Tchouangwa and junior standout Skylar Skrabanek combined for four quick kills to tie the first set, 21-21. After a few miscues on both sides of the net, Titley buried a kill on a premium set by S Presley Powell to give the Lady Falcons a 25-24 edge.

Then sophomore liber Brooklynn Merrell aced her opponents to lock down the first set for Tompkins. Keller stepped up in sets two and three, however, winning 25-17 and 25-20, and forcing the pivotal fourth set. Tompkins squeaked out the 25-22 win there. That yielded a 15-point fifth-set showdown.

Although fatigue makes the final set challenging for all, Tompkins led much of the way after Keller made a 3-point run to tie the final set, 8-8. Then OHs Titley and Tchouangwa turned up their power game, fine-tuned by a season of endurance training.

Tompkins setters Erica Dellesky and Powell helped the pair bury five kills and virtually freeze the Keller offense. The result was a 14-11 lead, which became a 15-11 epic semifinal victory when Tchouangwa and Christin Coward successfully blocked the Indians’ final attack.

Titley led all scores with 18 kills. Tchouangwa and Skrabanek each added 14. Keller was not as efficient in attacking, but they did set a team 6A record for aces in a match with 15, seven by Kea Whillock.

On Saturday Tompkins plays for the 6A state championship against Dripping Springs at 5 p.m. Dripping Springs (42-13) defeated The Woodlands (43-10), 3-1, in the second semifinal on Friday.