So much for being a “newbie.” 

The Fulshear Chargers’ volleyball program, in just its third year of existence at the varsity level, exceeded all expectations (outside of their own) as they came to the UIL Class 4A state tournament and made their mark while, at the same time, making school history.

Fulshear Coach Sydney Gotcher celebrates a point during the 4A state championship match

Coach Sydney Gotcher’s Chargers swept a favored Hereford team in
three sets (25-20, 25-18, 25-19) and grabbed the gold medal for a school that
didn’t exist five years ago (the school opened in 2016). 

Fulshear finishes the season with an amazing 45-4 record while
Hereford fell to 35-15 with the loss. 

“I don’t know if I really knew how good this team was this year,” chuckled Gotcher, whose team didn’t drop a single set in their six-match playoff run to the state championship. “There were times we’d take the floor and I’d wonder how the girls would handle a four-set or five-set match, yet they’ve been able to go out and dominate. I’m just as surprised as anyone about their ability to do so well.”

The Fulshear Chargers celebrate Match during in winning the team’s
first-ever state championship

Ellie Echter, a four-year senior, said, “This feels really
cool! There were about eight people in the program when we started it four
years ago; we all had a lot of volleyball experience outside of high school, we
just had to learn how to put that experience to use by developing chemistry
with each other.”

Sophomore libero Ava Underwood declared, “We knew we could
come to state and make an impact. This team is amazing; we love each other. To
be able to not drop a single set in the playoffs shows how much we played well

“We’re going to miss the seniors and their leadership. We
have a lot of (returnees) so we’ll have to get back to work.”

The Chargers were challenged in all three sets, escaping with
late scoring runs in Set 1. Hereford took exception and ran out to a quick 6-2
lead in Set 2. Fulshear battled back and chipped away at the lead. They
eventually tied it at 9-9, then used kills by Ellie Echter and Madeline Morrow
and an ace from Brooklyn Dacosta to go up 12-10; Echter then hammered the
hardwood again for a 13-10 lead. Overall it was an 11-4 scoring run. 

Echter and Alexis Dacosta combined for seven kills from there as
Fulshear finished the set on a 12-8 spurt and won, 25-18. 

Fulshear slowly but surely built up a lead throughout the third
and final set. They posted leads of 6-3 and 11-7 before grabbing a 19-11 lead
on an 8-4 scoring run. Tournament MVP Alexis Dacosta then drove home the
winning point with her 19th kill of the match to cap it off. 

Dacosta added 15 digs and one assist to her totals. Echter hammered
19 kills, dug out three balls, served up two aces and had one assist while
teammate Ava Underwood tallied 10 digs and one assist. Brooklyn Dacosta dished
out 43 assists and made 15 digs while serving up an ace, making one block and
getting two kills. Rebecca Ferrari had six digs and two aces and Sylar Voskuhl
chipped in four kills, a block and a dig. 

Hereford was led by Darcy Dodd (eight ills, 12 digs and two
aces), Rainey Aven (15 assists, eight digs, and one kill) and Alyssa Vallejo
(10 digs, two assists and one kill). 

New School, No Worries for Fulshear

So much for showing any signs of nervousness on their first trip
to the UIL State Tournament. 

The Fulshear Chargers came out swinging early and often against Kennedale in their Class 4A state semifinal Thursday night at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland.

Fulshear’s Alexis Dacosta slams a cross-court kill

When the dust settled, Sydney Gotcher’s Charger had slammed 38
kills (an astounding average of almost 13 kills per set) as the swept the
Wildcats, 3-0 (25-14, 25-11, 25-20).

The Chargers (44-4) advanced to Saturday’s 1 p.m. state final
matchup against Hereford. The Wildcats finished their season at 36-8.

Gotcher explained how her team refused to be nervous despite
taking the court at the state tournament for the first time in the program’s
short three-year varsity history. 

“We were in the locker room before the match and one of my
players said, ‘Hey, this is just another game,’” stated Gotcher, who
opened the Fulshear volleyball program when the school opened four years ago.
“When we talked in the huddle,before the match, we said that we need to
act like this our court. We needed to act like this is the Fulshear home court
and we have to protect our court. 

“That mind-set keeps us grounded and kept us from any
crazy nerves or anything when we took the court.”

Leading by a 5-3 score in Set 1, the Chargers blasted five kills
and opened up a 15-8 lead on a 10-5 scoring run. Two kills by sophomore Alexis
Decosta (who finished the night with a match-high 20 kills along with three
service aces, six digs and one blok) and one by senior Shelby Tally (two digs
and one kill) increased that lead to 20-12. Moments later, junior Ellie Echter
(11 kills, 10 digs, two total blocks and three aces)  slammed back-to-back
kills to close out the first set for the Chargers. 

Fulshear was even stronger in Set 2. The slowly built up a 7-3
lead; moments later, senior Brooklyn Decosta (33 assists, four digs and two
kills) dumped a ball into the middle of the Kennedale defense for an 11-4 lead.
Kills by Echter, senior Jallie Rodriguez (two kills), and Tally and an ace by
Alexis Decosta capped off an overall 14-4 run to push Fulshear’s lead to 18-7.
The Chargers cruised from there to an easy win in Set 2.

Kennedale, playing to keep its season alive, came out with some
fire in Set 3. They kept it close early on, then – trailing 19-9 – launched a
9-3 rally to close the gap to 22-18. However, back came the offense for
Fulshear; Echter had a quick-set kill, then Alexis Dacosta appropriately closed
out the match with back-to-back kills. 

“(Getting to state) was something we talked about when the
school opened, and we knew we could do it,” Gotcher explained. “All
the kids love the game; they’re obsessed with volleyball. I can’t speak enough
to how hard they work and how much they’ve earned this.”

Other contributors to the Chargers’ cause included sophomore
libero Ava Underwood (17 digs, two aces and one assist) and junior Rebecca
Ferrari (seven digs and three aces). 

The Chargers served up 11 total aces against just four service
errors; they made 47 digs and totalled three team blocks.

Kennedale was led by Madeline Pyles (12 kills and four digs),
Bryley Steinhilber (five kills and six digs) and Lillian Rychlik (23 assists,
two aces and eight digs).

Hereford slams Carthage to get to first state final since 2008

The Hereford High School’s volleyball program has its official
nickname listed as the Lady Whitefaces. 

Their in-school nickname is “The Herd.”

Well, the Herd rolled over the Carthage Bulldogs in the first
Class 4A state semifinal Thursday afternoon at the Curtis Culwell Center in

Hereford (35-14) swept Carthage (41-5), 3-0 (set scores of 25-8, 25-19, 25-23). 

Hereford head coach Catherine Foerster claps during the 3A state semis. Foerster revealed she wore the same outfit during The Herd’s
entire playoff run

The Bulldogs, at state for only the second time in the program’s
history (they lost in the semifinals back in 2003), made a push in Set 3 to
extend their season. they had leads of 20-17 and 21-19, thanks to a great
passing game. 

But back came The Herd, as  6-foot-3 sophomore Taytum Snow
(13 kills and four total blocks) made a kill and two total blocks to start the
comeback. After a Carthage kill made it 24-23 Hereford, Stow finished off the
6-2 game-ending run with her final kill.

Hereford will play for its sixth state championship in 10 trips
to state.

“This is such a great experience for these girls,” stated Hereford head coach Catherine Foerster, who played on 1999 and 2001 Hereford state title teams. “I didn’t really tell them much about my playing days although the community did have former state champion players send notes to this year’s squad.”

As teammate Rainey Aven watches, The Herd’s Taytum Shaw tips a shot past the defense

Senior Darcy Dodd, who finished with 13 kills, 14 digs, two
service aces and four assists, agreed with her coach.

“The outreach for the community is awesome,” Dodd
said. “We must have had the whole community out there today. We don’t
necessarily need the crowd noise for support, but you could tell our crowd was
loud here today.”

One might also say this 2019 Hereford squad has a bit of a
similarity to a “herd.”

“We admit it, we’re as superstitious as a baseball
team,” Foerster revealed, chuckling. “I’ve worn this same (red
velvet) outfit the entire playoff run, and have yet to wash it. Y’all stay away
from me, it might be kind of smelly.”

Foerster then continued, “Our girls have been wearing the
same warmup outfits – without washing them – for the playoffs; some of them
haven’t washed them for the entire season. That’s why we look like a band of
misfits during warmups!”

Whatever it is, it’s certainly working as Hereford will take on
the winner of the Fulshear/Kennedale semifinal on Saturday for the 4A state

About her team, Carthage head coach Dawn Stewart said:
“These girls had a great season. They have nothing to hang their heads
over; they set a goal of getting to state and they accomplished that. Next year
our goal will be to get here and win the title.”

Carthage was led by senior Cami Hicks, who tallied 12 kills and
one block. Teammate Fath Kruebbe chipped in with nine kills and seven digs
while Kristen Stewart totalled  30 assists, five kills, eight digs and one

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