Sequoyah came up short of the state tournament in each of the past three seasons. N’dea Murray was a member of those teams that lost in three straight regional finals.
She made sure that changed on Thursday.
Murray delivered an ace for the final point of the night, which sent Class 4A No. 4 Sequoyah to the state tournament with a 3-0 (26-24, 25-17, 25-21) victory over Westville at The Place Where They Play.
“I was so excited because we’ve worked so hard for it every year, and we’ve come close to it in the regional finals the past three years that I’ve been hear,” said Murray, a senior defender on the back line.
“We finally made it, so I’m really excited.”
For Sequoyah (31-5), the appearance in the state tournament at Westmoore High School on Oct. 11 will be the school’s first trip since 2006.
“The girls are obviously excited,” said Sequoyah coach Jay Herrin, whose program will make its second-ever trip to the state tournament. “We’re real pleased with accomplishing another goal that we set out to accomplish at the beginning of the year.”
When Murray’s serve hit the floor on Westville’s side of the court, Sequoyah’s Audrey Ballou raced to Murray and hoisted her in the air. The Lady Indians’ bench then exploded with roars — and the celebration was on.
“It was the greatest moment of my life,” said Ballou, who finished with a match-high 19 kills, including seven in the final set.
With Westville reeling off four straight points to pull within 23-21 in the third set, Sequoyah caught a break when Westville’s scoring run was ended by a serve into the net.
And that’s exactly what Murray was trying to avoid with a trip to the state tournament on the line.
“The first thing I was thinking was I just had to get it over the net,” Murray said. “And just play out the point from there. We just kind of got lucky, and they didn’t dig the ball.”
Herrin admitted he was thinking the same thing Murray was.
“N’dea is a talented server, and she has very little margin for error. It’s either a great, hard hit ball and barely over the net or in the net,” Herrin said. “She really did her job today.”
Westville (19-7) led early in the third set, but Sequoyah rallied from down 12-7 to tying the set at 15. The Lady Indians then scored six straight points, including three kills by Ballou.
“I thought in game three we were wearing down so bad,” Herrin said. “Baylee (Herrin’s) back, Audrey’s knees, Kayli (Gonzales’) shoulder; I really almost felt like we had to wrap it up in three, because in four and five, I don’t know what we would have left in our tanks.”
Sequoyah, which beat Westville three times in the regular season, put itself in position to win the final set after dominating in the second set. It was the first set that was a little dicey for the Lady Indians.
After Westville went up 23-22, Sequoyah scored four of the final five points, including a point on a Jhonett Cookson hit and a point off the right had of Ballou.
For Sequoyah, Cookson finished with seven kills and seven blocks. On defense, Alison Holcomb had 10 digs, and Britanie Wacoche had seven.
Now it’s on to central Oklahoma for the Lady Indians.
“[Our goal] is to win state, but we have to win our games there,” Ballou said of the state tournament. “We have to win our first game; that’s our goal.”
4A regional tournament
Sequoyah 3, Hulbert 0 (25-9, 25-7, 25-11)
Salina 3, Inola 0 (25-20, 25-18, 25-13)
Okay 3, Wagoner 2 (15-25, 26-25, 25-17, 18-25, 25-12)
Westville 3, Chouteau 0 (25-6, 25-9, 25-9)
Sequoyah 3, Salina 0 (25-12, 25-23, 25-22)
Westville 3, Okay 0 (25-18, 25-13, 25-13)
Sequoyah 3, Westville 0 (26-24, 25-17, 25-21)