GARLAND – Once again, the Neches Lady Tigers are back on the mountain top. For the second straight year, they can call themselves state champions.
Neches capped off their immaculate tournament run with a 3-0 sweep ( 25-11, 25-12, 25-18) against Round-Top Carmine in the Class 1A state volleyball title game on Thursday at Curtis Culwell Center in Garland.
Filled with emotion, Neches head coach Morgan Roberson summed up their back-to-back state title victory as “It's exciting.”
Stacked with eight returning members from their 2018 state title team, seven of which played in last year's state tournament, the Lady Tigers finished the season boasting a 41-5 overall record and a clean 14-0 record in conference play.
Tournament MVP Kacie Kimbrough (Neches junior who received her second MVP trophy) powered home 18 of the Lady Tigers 37 total kills against Round-Top. Her .364 hitting percentage was third behind Lexi Rogers, 50 percent, and Kourtney Mannix, 40 percent. Kimbrough added in nine digs, four aces and three blocks.
Coach Roberson raved about her teams' ability to spread the ball around and Rogers showed it. The junior middle blocker sent in 10 kills and added six digs, an ace and an assist. Mannix contributed five kills.
Junior setter Emily Hill dished out 33 assists and had one block assist, two digs and one ace.
Round-Top head coach first-year coach, Caitie Carney, said “They flat-out beat us. They're a good all-around team; they're well-coached and they have some great players. We look forward to playing them here next year."
After going down 2-0 in the opening set, Neches opened up a 6-0 run to quickly regain momentum.
“We came out with a little bit of the jitters there,” Roberson said. They were excited and nervous. The first couple of points they got into it. RTC made a couple of mistakes that allowed us to regroup. We rolled on from there.”
RTC climbed back within two before another Neches run sat them on top 10-4. The Lady Bobcats never got back within six points from there as a kill from Lexi Rogers clinched the first set for Neches.
Much like the first set, the first 10 points of the second was a competitive bout. A few attacking errors on both sides put the set at 6-4, Neches. A kill from Kacie Kimbrough sparked a 12-0 run from the Lady Tigers and widened the hole too deep for Round Top.
“We tried to keep it pretty normal,” Roberson said after Neches went up 2-0. “You try to downplay it so the girls don't lose their minds (Roberson said grinning).
Since Neches drop to 1A in 2018, the Lady Tigers have been the most dominant force in this classification. In two years, Neches has yet to lose to another 1A school and their lone losses this year were to Leon (2A), a pair of 3A schools and top-ranked 4A school Farmersville.