State champs!

NBCA’s Camdyn Doucet (left) and Kiana Van Haaren celebrate a point Thursday.

WEST — On Thursday afternoon, the Lady Cats removed all doubt regarding which team reigns supreme within TAPPS Class 3A this season.

New Braunfels Christian Academy (37-5) fought its way to the summit of its classification after sweeping Round Rock Christian 25-23, 28-26, 25-19 in the 3A state championship match at West High School. NBCA, which finished as the state runner-up in 2018, accomplished its mission of reaching the pinnacle in spectacular fashion, as head coach Megan Dugie’s team didn’t drop a single set during district play or the postseason.

In fact, the Lady Cats closed their remarkable 2019 campaign with 15 consecutive sweeps.

“We haven’t dropped a set since Sept. 7, which just blows my mind,” Dugie said. “That’s a true testament to how awesome this team is.”

NBCA’s win over Round Rock Christian avenged an earlier tournament loss to the Crusaders, which was also the last time this year that New Braunfels Christian tasted the sting of defeat.

The Lady Cats came out motivated from the outset in Thursday’s championship contest and held the momentum while capturing the opening game 25-23.

Round Rock Christian countered with a quick surge in the second set and built separate leads of five and six points until NBCA steadied itself and began to chip away at the deficit.

Hailey Hamlett, who finished with a match-high 31 kills, provided plenty of big hits along the way as the Lady Cats posted a hard-fought 28-26 triumph and pulled themselves one set away from claiming the state’s ultimate prize.

“We were all on our toes because the day before (Round Rock Christian) had played Midland Classical and lost the first set but came back,” Hamlett said. “We made sure they didn’t come back. Their morale on the team was kind of crushed after the first set.”

NBCA cruised to a 10-1 lead in the third set, but the Crusaders refused to throw in the towel. Round Rock Christian made several runs, but on each occasion the Lady Cats answered with enough firepower to extinguish the rally.

“I told the girls, ‘We’re definitely not done, and Round Rock isn’t done, either,’” Dugie said. “They ended up making a comeback and I had to call a couple timeouts to regroup the girls and remind them our job was not finished.”

Once New Braunfels Christian Academy put the finishing touches on the 3-0 triumph, the celebration ensued. Hamlett said every player on the team wanted to ensure that the Lady Cats’ lone senior — Adria Galles — went out on top.

“We knew we wanted to do it for Adria, our senior, because she’s an amazing leader,” Hamlett said. “We wanted to play for her and for coach.”

Galles supplied 61 assists and four aces in the title match, while Doucet tallied 18 kills. Ellie Wineinger added seven kills and a pair of aces.

Dugie admitted afterward that she knew her squad wasn’t going to let a second straight opportunity slip away at the state tournament.

“I had every feeling that we were going to win this thing,” the coach said. “These girls weren’t going to let anything hold them back. They’ve had their eyes set on this from the offseason.”

Still, the sweep was a little surprising to some of the Lady Cats themselves, including Doucet.

“We wanted it really bad and we knew we would do anything to get it, but we also thought it would be tougher,” Doucet said. “I don’t think any of us thought we’d be able to sweep them, but I think we all thought we’d take care of it.”

New Braunfels Christian is already a strong favorite to make it back to state in 2020. The Lady Cats are slated to return 11 of their 12 players from this season, including Doucet, Hamlett, Wineinger, Kiana Van Haaren, Jessica Hammock, Raylee Rutledge and Victoria Cox.

NBCA is also expecting big things in the future from Addison Lemme, Bella Contreras, Arianna Garcia and Emily Arp.

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