GARLAND, TX - Bailey Rice's double-double led the Archer City Lady Cat volleyball team to the brink of its first-ever UIL state championship Wednesday night
Rice logged 10 kills and 14 digs to lead the Lady Cats past a scrappy Thrall Tigerettes team 25-23, 25-22, 25-15 and into the Class 2A finals, where they will face top-ranked Iola (42-1) on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at the Curtis Culwell Center.
Archer City trailed early in each of the first two sets, before rallying to lead. In the first, they built a 20-14 lead only to see Thrall, making their first-ever state tournament appearance, fight back to 22-all. But the Lady Cats scored 3 of the final 4 points of the set, closing it out on a Rice kill from the back line that just found the back-right corner of Thrall's court.
In the second set, Thrall (37-11) jumped out to a 10-3 lead before the Lady Cats again crept closer. It was 22-19 Thrall before Archer City scored the final 6 points of the set, capped off with Grace Morris's kill off of a Thrall blocker. Morris finished with six kills in the match.
The third set looked like Archer City was going to run away and hide, jumping out to a 7-1 lead, but again Thrall wouldn't go away. The Tigerettes cut the lead to 15-14 before the Lady Cats finally put things away with a 10-1 run to close out the match.
Lauren Castles was held to just 9 kills, but was efficient with a .375 hitting percentage and 7 total blocks at the net.
Audry Lopez led the Lady Cats (38-7) with 19 digs and 5 aces. Eliot Hilbers directed the offense with 27 assists, while recording 9 digs.
In the first semifinal, Iola rallied from a 2-set deficit to beat Weimar 20-25, 14-25, 28-26, 26-24, 15-8 and reach the championship game, where they will face an Archer County team for the second-straight season. The Lady Bulldogs defeated Windthorst last year, 25-15, 25-23, 23-25, 25-19.
Tune in to Newschannel 6 at 10 on Thursday night for complete highlights and reaction from the Lady Cats in the Class 2A State Championship game!