Thompson’s season ends in Elite 8 with loss to McGill-Toolen

Published 1:42 pm Wednesday, November 1, 2023

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

BIRMINGHAM – The Thompson Warriors refused to go down without a fight, but their journey came to an end with a 3-0 loss to defending the Class 7A state champions, the McGill-Toolen Yellow Jackets, in the Elite 8 of the state volleyball tournament at the Birmingham CrossPlex on Wednesday, Nov. 1.

“The journey’s just been incredible,” Thompson coach Judy Green said after the match. “We got some bad breaks here at the end and at super regionals, but I was proud of the way our team prepared for two days.”

After Thompson fell into a hole in the first set, McGill-Toolen kept its foot on the gas and closed out a set win to open the match. The Yellow Jackets won the first set, 25-10, and that set the tone for the next part of the match.

The Warriors battled out of a 4-0 hole to tie the set, but McGill won the next eight points to assert a commanding 12-4 lead. Thompson limited the damage in the second set by breaking McGill’s serve on multiple occasions and trailed 18-11.

The Yellow Jackets took the next six points to take a 24-11 lead and put themselves on set point. However, a service error and a Thompson point kept the Warriors alive briefly.

McGill then took the next point to win the second set, 25-13, and put itself one set win away from the semifinals.

However, that Warriors momentum to close the second set carried over into a back-and-forth battle of a third set. Thompson briefly led at 2-1 to start the set, but the Yellow Jackets established an 8-5 lead.

Thompson rallied to tie the match, and the teams traded points until the Warriors took a 12-10 lead. They extended that lead to 15-12 and looked to be in control of the set, but McGill flipped the momentum back to its side with a 5-0 run to go up 17-15.

While the Yellow Jackets controlled the next stretch and threatened to close out the match up 23-18, Thompson battled until the very end. A crucial dig by Bradli Davis led to a Warriors point that put them down just 23-22.

However, after a McGill timeout, the Yellow Jackets won the next two points to seal a 25-22 third set win. That closed out a 3-0 victory and a Final 4 berth for McGill and brought Thompson’s season to a close.

While the match didn’t turn out the way she wanted it to, Green recognized the talent of the defending state champions and the effective playstyle that they utilize.

“We played a very good volleyball team today,” Green said. “McGill is good, they make you make mistakes.”

Despite the loss, Green was proud of her team after they improved from last year with a 33-8 record, including a perfect run through area play and an area championship, as well as an appearance at the state tournament.

She was especially proud of her 10 graduating seniors and said it would be hard to see them leave.

“I’m proud of our team and our season,” Green said. “We have nothing to hang our head over, but it’s going to be tough to say goodbye to 10 seniors today.”