EDMOND — Edmond Santa Fe volleyball coach Will Ethridge had not beaten Tulsa Kelley in what he estimates to be five years.
That is until Tuesday night, when the top-ranked Wolves handed the volleyball power a 3-1 loss.
Last week, No. 2 Edmond North handed the third-ranked Comets a 3-0 loss.
With both schools ranked ahead of Tulsa Kelley, those victories could be proof this could finally be the year someone ends the Comets' reign.
“We are a talented group this year,” Ethridge said. “Up to this point, the girls have just played really well together and (have been) winning the close matches against some quality teams.
“But, it's very tight there at the top between those top three teams and maybe even a couple more you can throw in there.”
Tulsa Kelley has won the past six championships — two in Class 6A after a four-year span in Class 5A. Dating back to 1998, the Comets have won 12 state titles.
“They've been contenders since I've been involved in the game, which is about 100 years ago,” Ethridge said. “Whatever class they've been in is irrelevant; they've always played a 6A schedule anyway.
“We played them every year anyway, there was just a stretch of time probably between about '04 and whatever year they moved up to 6A (2011) where they got the benefit of them playing 5A as far as the state tournament went.”
Perhaps schools are finally able to match the talent level.
With players such as Santa Fe junior Jordan Spence and North's strong nucleus, the notion of an upset doesn't sound as crazy as it did in the past.
“The talent that is coming in,” second-year North coach Kimo Aweau said about the difference this year. “My sophomore class this year, my senior class this year are all very strong, very experienced, well-coached players — even before they came to me.”
Aweau said players such as Rachel Manriquez, Alissa Benson and Hannah Rose Frohling have made the Huskies contenders.
At Santa Fe, Ethridge considers Spence to be one of the top offensive players in the state. She anchors the middle of the Wolves' nucleus, which has beaten North three out of four times this season. And as it continues to win matches appears the Class 6A favorite.
Though Ethridge believes the race for the title remains tight between the trio of schools.
“If something separates us, I just think that there are probably three teams that don't have any real weak links on the court at the time or maybe even have some depth on the bench,” he said. “I think that any of those three teams can win it. I think it's going to come down to who plays best at the end and peaks at the right time.”