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The Slipper Still Fits – Lady Bulldogs Advance to IHSA State Finals

“Excluding the birth of my two children, this has been the best week of my life.”

Those were the words of Carmi-White County Head Volleyball Coach Chris Lucas after his Lady Bulldogs defeated Champaign St. Thomas More in 3 sets at the IHSA 2A Robinson Super-Sectional, to punch their ticket to the State Finals for the first time in CWCHS History.

Carmi-White County and State Finals haven’t been said in the same sentence in a long time. The Bulldogs have had a few teams talented enough to make it to the big dance; the 2018 & 2019 Golf teams, the 1998-1999 boys basketball team, the 1993 baseball team, and of course the 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978 and 1979 state champion golf teams, just to name a few.

Now the 2023 Lady Bulldog Volleyball team can be added to that list.

Ever since Chris Lucas took over as head coach, he has been building a winning culture. He led the Lady Bulldogs to their first regional championship in 43 years in 2021, and 2 years later he and the Lady Dogs have re-wrote the record book.

What makes this history-making run all the more special has been the path that the Lady Bulldogs have taken to get where they are.

Carmi defeated the #7 team in 2A, Fairfield in a thrilling 3-set Sectional Championship on Wednesday to win the first sectional crown in school history, but midway through the 1st set that didn’t seem possible. Carmi trailed by 10 multiple times in the 1st set as Fairfield showed how dominant they had been all season. The Lady Bulldogs were able to score 7 of the last 11 points in the set to give themselves some sort of positive momentum heading into the 2nd set.

And that momentum was monumental.

We saw a different team come out in the 2nd set, and we saw the Lady Bulldogs play their best match of the season.

Carmi went on to win the 2nd and 3rd set, both by a score of 25-19.

Chaos erupted from the CWC players, bench, coaches, parents, student section, and play-by-play announcer once the 25th point was scored. Pure shock and happiness trying to comprehend what Carmi had just accomplished.

With all that had happened, the Lady Dogs only had 48 hours to prepare for their Super Sectional matchup with St. Thomas More.

Friday’s match began as a nail-biter, and it would keep that trend all night long. Both teams traded points, and neither team could build a big lead in the first set. The Lady Bulldogs made one too many rare mistakes, and those made the difference.

STM took set one 25-23.

That nail-biting trend stayed the same in the 2nd set, but this time the Sabers were able to make a run a build a 5-point lead at 18-13. Down to their last gasp, Chris Lucas called a timeout in an attempt to spark his team, and it worked.

Carmi went on a run of their own to tie the match at 19-19. The Sabers eventually re-gained the lead at 22-21, but the Lady Bulldogs ended the set on a 4-0 run to win it 25-22 and force a 3rd set.

STM jumped out to a 2-0 lead, and once held a 4-3 lead in set 3, but that would be the last time they led all night.

The Lady Bulldogs hit their stride and dominated St. Thomas More offensively and defensively, winning the third and decisive set 25-18.

“We made history again,” said coach Lucas postgame. “Just an awesome performance by our girls, they never quit and never gave up, and now we’re Super Sectional Champions.”

CWC now advances to the IHSA State Finals at Redbird Arena on the campus of Illinois State University in Normal as they are one of just four schools (and one of just two public schools) remaining in 2A.

The Lady Bulldogs will take on Elmhurst Immaculate Conception Catholic on Friday at 12 PM in the state semifinals.

If the Lady Bulldogs win on Friday, they will take on the winner of Breese Mater Dei vs Rock Falls in the State Championship Match on Saturday at 2 PM.

If the Lady Bulldogs lose on Friday, they will take on the loser of Breese Mater Dei vs Rock Falls in the 3rd Place Match on Saturday at 12:30 PM.

Fans who can’t make the road trip will be able to watch both CWC matches on the NFHS Network ($11.99 a month).

The IHSA will not let us stream the matches on the WRUL Sports YouTube Channel, but both matches will be broadcasted on 97.3 FM WRUL and online at

  1. Lynn
    November 6, 2023 at 8:53 am

    Congratulations Lady Bulldogs and Coach Lucas your win against Champaign St. Thomas More!! Well played!!!!

  2. Carol Egbert Naylor
    Carol Egbert Naylor
    November 6, 2023 at 12:23 pm

    Well done ladies👏👏


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