High-SchoolVolleyball: Lovejoy

By Walter Villa

SAN MARCOS, Texas – If Lovejoy (Lucas) is to become just the fourth Texas team to win at least four straight state titles, it will have to do so without one of the nation’s best players.

Ebony Nwanebu, a 6-foot-4 junior and a Southern Cal recruit, did not play Friday, when Lovejoy defeated Sinton 25-23, 25-9, 25-15 in a Class 3A state semifinal. Nwanebu was on the bench, supporting her team and wearing her warm-ups.

Lovejoy coach Ryan Mitchell said Nwanebu was not hurt and was not out due to disciplinary reasons. He told the team Nwanebu would not be playing on Wednesday, giving them only one day to prepare.

“Ebony is a coach’s decision this weekend,” Mitchell said after his team improved to 47-4. “She is eligible to play. She will not be playing.”

Nwanebu was the MVP of the 2010 Class 3A state finals. But even without her, Lovejoy still has 6-2 senior Andie Malloy, a setter and right side hitter. Malloy, an Iowa State recruit and a part of the USA’s Youth National team, came through Friday with a match-high 12 kills. She also added 10 assists and a .303 kill percentage.

Sinton (30-11), which did not know about Nwanebu’s status until the match started, led the first set 17-11 before unraveling. For the match, Sinton had 11 return errors compared to only two for Lovejoy.

Lovejoy will play Wylie (Abilene) in Saturday’s state championship game.
By Kirstin Olsen

Lucas LovejoyTLC Photos Lovejoy (Lucas, Texas) will be making its fourth straight trip to the Texas state semifinals.

No. 21 Lovejoy
(Lucas, Texas) is cruising through the 3A Conference bracket with wins over North Lamar and Prosper. The Leopards' only losses this season came in August at preseason tournaments. Tulsa commit Nicole Newton and Iowa State commit Andie Malloy signed their letters of intent last week. Junior outside hitter/middle blocker Ebony Nwanebu had verbally committed to USC. The Leopards will face Sinton this week in the state semifinals.

No. 17 Bishop Moore (Orlando, Fla.) has only one loss this year, to No. 7 Berkeley Prep, and may get another shot at the Bucs in the state final. This week the Hornets will take on Bolles in the FHSAA 4A semifinals while Berkeley Prep faces No. 22 Cardinal Gibbons. The Hornets boast junior outside hitter Lindsey Owens, senior libero Alex Beecher, sophomore setter Allie Monserez and senior middle blocker Maura Mulligan.

No. 16 Palo Alto (Palo Alto, Calif.) has had an up-and-down year but is in contention for another state final appearance if they can make it through the CIF Central Coast Section. The Vikings face Salinas this week in the Division I semis. The Vikings' go-to hitters are 6-5 middle blocker Melanie Wade, a Washington commit, and 6-2 outside hitter Maddie Kuppe, a UConn commit. Senior setter and Pacific commit Kimmy Whitson has also starred this year.

No. 27 Marymount (Los Angeles, Calif.) has had a commendable season with a second-place finish at Durango, sixth at the Cal Challenge and second at Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions. The Sailors boast standout twins Lauren Fuller, a setter and Arizona commit, and Manon Fuller, an outside hitter and Virginia commit. Junior middle blocker Kaitlyn Edwards has stepped up her game as a key contributor this season.