=BROKEN ARROW — The Lady Buffs have had their sights on the state tournament since last season, and this past weekend McAlester’s young volleyball team took their ambition all the way to the finals of the Class 5A championship.

In a season where winning had come to be expected the Lady Buffs made it through the first day of competition undefeated; first downing Bixby, 2-0 (25-20, 25-18) and then defeating Bishop McGuinness, 2-0 (25-18, 25-21) in the night cap.

From there the 32-13 Lady Buffs had their work cut out for them as they had to go head-to-head with the No. 1 ranked Bishop Kelley Comets, a team that had beaten the Lady Buffs earlier in the season.

The private school once again got the better of the Lady Buffs winning, 2-0 (25-8, 25-13).

“I knew after losing to Kelley, that our backs were up against the wall,” said head coach Julie James. “My main goal after that was to get the girls to the finals.

In the loser’s bracket, McAlester next defeated McGuinness in three 2-1 (25-23, 18-25, 25-19), earning the right to face off with Bishop Kelley one more time in the finals 2-0, where they were bested (25-16, 24-4).

The Lady Buffs, who were already crowned State Academic Champions earlier this year, can add the State Runner-up trophy to their accomplishments. This is the second consecutive year for the Lady Buffs to win the state academic championship.

For a relatively new program the McAlester Lady Buffs’ trip to the state tournament was a first for the team since being started in 1997.

And while the Lady Buffs will be celebrating their finish, they can’t help but look to the future with only two varsity players being lost to graduation.

“We have a majority of our girls coming back, and while we will really miss our seniors, this finish is great experience for next season.”

Among those returning starters for McAlester, will be Amelia Judge and Kelsey Hancock who were both named to the All-Tournament team this weekend.

“Our girls said that this is the most fun they’ve ever had,” said James. “And at least they had fun with it — it is an amazing experience.”