“I’m just so happy for the team and I,” said senior middle blocker Emily Killam. “We’ve worked so hard to get here and the fact that it’s all paid off and we’ve gotten to this moment is so surreal. I don’t even think it’s hit me that we’re going to state."
Cinco Ranch has worked all year for this opportunity.
All year, the Cougars have talked about Garland, about the state tournament and about how badly they wanted to get there.
Cinco Ranch (37-5) pushed for that all season, from securing an unbeaten district title to running through the playoffs and into the regional tournament. The Cougars had to clear one last hurdle though and did that when they beat Seven Lakes in the Region III-6A Final last weekend.
“I’m just so happy for the team and I,” said senior middle blocker Emily Killam. “We’ve worked so hard to get here and the fact that it’s all paid off and we’ve gotten to this moment is so surreal. I don’t even think it’s hit me that we’re going to state. We’ve just gotten better all year and it all came together in this last game. That’s what we have to keep doing at state.”
It had been coming for the Cougars. Cinco Ranch had made the third round of the playoffs nine out of the past 10 years and made it to the regional tournament five times in the past decade, but that final hurdle had eluded them until this year, when they broke through for the first time since 2009.
It’s been a journey for Cinco, which has taken a step further each of the past three years, reaching the regional quarters in 2021 before reaching the region final last year and making it a step further to state this year.
“It’s been amazing, I’ve been playing with four or five of these girls since my sophomore year and we’ve just defied the odds. Our sophomore year no one picked us to get past the first round and we made it three. Last year, no one though we would get to the regional tournament and we got to the regional final. We just gained confidence from that every time. We know we could do this. This is exactly what we wanted and as a group everyone had to buy in and execute better than we ever have. But now we are headed to state.”
The Cougars have worked towards this all year, and for their efforts they get a matchup with Harlan (44-5) in the state semifinals. The Hawks come into the matchup winners of 26 in a row and swept last years state champions, Dripping Springs, in their Regional Final matchup. Cinco Ranch and Harlan faced off earlier in the year in non-district play and Harlan swept Cinco Ranch two sets to none.
But that doesn’t phase the Cougars. This is a group that has been through everything. They are ready for whatever is put in front of them and they can’t wait for the next challenge.
“We are all so excited and we can’t wait to get there,” said Cinco Ranch head coach Danielle Wells. “Obviously (Assitant Coach Stephanie Thapar have talked about it. We’ve been coaching together for 10 years and we talk about it every year. I’m just so happy we finally made it and I can’t wait to get up there with everyone.”