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Comal Davenport beats Randall for first Texas high school volleyball state title: 'We believe in each other'

Wolves prevail over Canyon Randall to win UIL Class 4A state title Saturday
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GARLAND, TEXASCanyon Randall was looking to become the second straight Class 4A school to repeat as Texas high school volleyball state champions.

That didn’t happen as Comal Davenport — a school that opened in 2020 — secured the first state championship in the sport with a 3-2 win over Randall on Saturday at Curtis Culwell Center.

After Decatur won Class 4A titles in 2020 and 2021, Randall was looking to follow with crowns in 2022 and 2023.

The Raiders (43-5) jumped ahead by winning the first two sets, but Davenport (47-5) won the last three, including 17-15 in the fifth set.

>> Texas (UIL) high school volleyball state championships 2023: Live game updates, latest scores

“We all believe in ourselves and we believe in each other,” Davenport’s Logan Strong set, who had 27 digs — for a team that had 118 in the win. “We know we can play to our potential and we know what we are capable of. We can pick each other up and we trusted in each other the next three sets.”

Up 14-12 and a point away from winning, Davenport had to wait as the defending state champs surged back and took a 15-14 lead.

Talan Dodson — the tournament MVP — tied the match at 15 on a kill. Riley Neese had a save before Ashton Dodson had a kill to end it at 17-15.

The Raiders won the first two sets, 25-22 before the Wolves stayed alive with a 25-22 win in the third set. Davenport won 25-21 to force a first-to-15-points scenario.

The storyline for Randall was finding a way to always battle back from ties or deficits.

In the first set, the Raiders (44-4) broke a 17-17 tie.

In the second set, Davenport (46-6) led 21-18 before Randall scored five points in a row. A bump kill by Sidney Soria gave the Raiders the win. Soria had 42 assists and 21 digs in the contest.

Davenport built an 18-8 lead in the third set and then had to hold off a late charge by Randall, which pulled within 24-22.

In the fourth set, the Wolves broke a 10-tie by scoring five of the next seven points. Randall cut a six-point deficit down to two (22-20) but Ashtan Dodson had two kills to help ice the win and the win-or-go-home final set.

“Great match; ultimately didn’t go the way we wanted it to that is how it goes sometimes,” Randall coach Haleigh Burns said. “I think it is hard to get to the state tournament and to do it with these kids is a true testament of heart and grit. Hats off to Davenport; they played hard and battled and we were caught watching at some times. I’m not going to act like it's fine and dandy, I’ll try to be politically correct as I can, but it sucks. It sucks for my seniors and my kids who have worked really hard.”

Here are three takeaways from Garland:


Comal Davenport poses with the UIL Class 4A state volleyball title trophy on Saturday in Garland.

Comal Davenport poses with the UIL Class 4A state volleyball title trophy on Saturday in Garland.

Talan Dodson not only won the state title, she also locked up the MVP trophy.

“I was going for that,” she said of the honor. “It feels good.”

She had 29 kills and 17 digs in the championship match, giving her 44 kills and 28 digs in the two games in Garland.

One particular play and sequence stood out for Davenport coach Taylour Toso.

Talan Dodson had an error on a hit out of bounds, which allowed Randall to tie the game at 14-14 in the fifth set.

Moments later, Talan Dodson asked for the ball next time setter Emily Chabot — who had 43 assists — got it. Chabot served up an assist and Talan got the kill that would tie the game at 15-15.

“Talan is special,” Toso said. “She is a kid who has the ability to take over a game. We bumped heads a lot; she reminds me a lot of myself when I was younger and headstrong and wanted to go hard all the time. Watching her battle, even Thursday going up against that Celine block, and still swinging 100 miles per hour. She had no doubt in herself and I hope everyone sees her legacy she’s leaving behind as a senior. No matter the score, she will go 100 miles per hour and she wanted to win the game.”


Comal Davenport vs Canyon Randall UIL 4A State Championship November 18, 2023 Photo-Michael Horbovetz17

When Canyon ISD started to grow, a bond was passed to build a third high school in 2018. That turned into splitting attendance boundaries with West Plains coming in 2022.

Sitting on the podium with four of her classmates, senior Jordyn Gove talked about what that meant.

“Every single one of them taught me valuable life lessons I wouldn’t have had if the split wouldn’t have had happened,” Gove said. “I know we wouldn’t have made it to state the past two years if the split didn’t happen so I’m grateful.”

The Valparaiso signee had 26 kills and 21 digs in her final match and finished her career with more than 1,000 kills and digs. She was the MVP of last year’s championship game.


Comal Davenport vs Canyon Randall UIL 4A State Championship November 18, 2023 Photo-Michael Horbovetz11

Playing in a fifth set was nothing new to either team this year — both had done it — but only Davenport had come out on top in those situations.

The Wolves finished 3-2 in those matches, while Randall was 0-3 this year in five sets.

“Set one and two were tough,” Toso said. She said she joked with her team in the third set by thanking them for showing up after racing out to a double-digit point lead.

“I feel like I found the team and the group I’m used to working with and coaching,” she said of the joke. “We weren’t competing at our highest level. We weren’t doing the little things that make us special. To do that in sets three, four and five was really awesome.”

Davenport had lost its last two five-set matches, but on Sept. 1 they won 3-2 against La Vernia. They fell behind 2-0 before winning the next three.

“It’s just a set,” said Dahl, who had 19 digs and 10 kills for the Wolves. “They have to get to three (sets) before they win. (The deficit) didn’t matter; we put all our effort on the floor.”

For Randall, they lost all three five-set matches and history repeated itself a bit. In a 3-2 loss to Amarillo, the Raiders were up 2-0 before the opponents rallied to win the last three.

-- Cody Thorn | @sblivetx