By BOB CRAMER
For members of Mustang High’s volleyball team, a dream partly came true Tuesday night — the Lady Broncos are going to the state tournament.
MHS (29-4) overwhelmed Westmoore and Union to capture the championship of the Class 6A regional tournament before about 300 fans at the Mustang High School Event Center.
The Lady Broncos now will try to make their dreams complete by winning the state title next week. MHS will be making its first appearance in the 6A state tournament since 1996.
Mustang will play in the state quarterfinals Monday in Claremore, which also hosts the semifinals that day. The brackets will be drawn up later this week.
The 6A title match will be played Tuesday at Catoosa High School following the 5:30 p.m. Class 5A championship.
Besides Mustang, other schools advancing to the 6A tournament are Broken Arrow, Edmond North, Deer Creek, Edmond Santa Fe, Edmond Memorial, Norman North and Jenks.
“I’m ecstatic about what we’ve accomplished this year,” said Steve Hajek, MHS’ fourth-year coach. “It just took a little bit longer to get Mustang to state than I wanted.”
The Lady Broncos dismantled Westmoore 25-16, 25-12, 25-16 in their afternoon opener. The Lady Jaguars ended the season 5-20.
Mustang then met Union, which had eliminated Choctaw 25-21, 28-30, 23-25, 25-12, 15-8. The Yellowjackets finished 14-16.
After starting slowly and trailing 10-6, Mustang shifted into high gear and outscored the Lady Redskins, 19-4, to end the first set en route to claiming a 25-14, 25-10, 25-16 victory.
“What I’m proudest of is they didn’t get anxious,” Hajek said. “They maintained their composure and didn’t panic under the pressure.”
Mustang was led by senior hitter Sage McCaskill, who had a team-high 10 kills.
“We have state in mind. We’ve been fighting for it all year,” McCaskill said. “Since I was a freshman, it’s been my dream to go to state.”
It was Mustang’s 13th-straight triumph and 16th win in its last 17 matches.
The Lady Broncos also finished 15-1 on their homecourt.
Senior libero Madi Hajek, the team captain and a three-year starter, felt Mustang played well but can raise its game even higher against 6A’s top teams.
“We played really well and adjusted to both teams,” said Madi Hajek, the coach’s daughter. “But we know playing better teams will bring out another level of volleyball in us.”
Madi Hajek, sophomore setter Casady McKinney and senior defense specialist Victoria Everhart kept the ball off the floor and set up the hitters to continue attacking the Lady Redskins.
Union coach Chadd McKee said his team simply couldn’t find any flaws to exploit in the Lady Broncos.
“They have great ball control and don’t make many mistakes,” said McKee, in his 25th year as Union’s coach. “They just don’t have many weaknesses. We got beat by a club that executed better than we did.”
Union ended the season 13-20.
Junior hitters Ruby Kelley and Madelyn Booth contributed to Mustang’s balanced attack with nine and six kills, respectively. Kelley also blocked five shots.
“Since the middle of the summer, we’ve said everything we’ve done — all the blood, sweat and tears — is to win state,” Booth said. “We all want it bad.”
Kelley said most of the team has been friends for years, playing together that long. Such chemistry has helped Mustang play some of its best volleyball lately.
“We have improved our mental game,” Kelley said. “We are working well together and just connect.”
It’s been 35 years since Mustang won its last state title. The Lady Broncos were state champions in 1978, 1979, 1980, 1982, 1983 and 1984.