Plano still struggling with finishing off foes

August 25, 2007
By Kevin Hageland, Staff Writer

ALLEN - Plano Senior has not been questioned in their ability to gain a lead this season. However, keeping a lead and closing out with a win has been a roller coaster even early in tournament play.

Twice in the Texas Open on Saturday, Plano fell after gaining large leads over their opponents.

“I think it’s just a lack of confidence in some players and in some areas,” said Jennifer Cron, Plano head coach.

In their first match of the morning, The Lady Wildcats squared off with District 9-5A counterpart Lake Highlands in a Round of 16 contest. Plano squandered a nine- and seven-point lead in the match, before eventually losing in two games.

In the next match, played in the bronze division, Plano was paired up with Hebron, who has lost twice this season to Plano West. Plano took a 5-2 lead with good passing and ran off five straight points on the serving of senior right side Quinn McKee.

Hebron ran into a solid defensive effort as Plano senior outside hitter Danielle Caldwell helped extend the Lady Wildcats lead to 12-4.

Plano led, 17-7, as the Lady Hawks called a time out, at which point Cron warned her team not to get careless.

After the break, the Lady Wildcats continued to roll, leading 22-9, and the combination of senior setter Mary Elizabeth Hooper and senior middle Leslie Mirarchi looked unstoppable as they set up and spiked point after point. Hebron kept it alive with a trio of digs though to bring the score to 24-11, but Plano senior outside hitter Christina Krone finished the game with a kill, giving the Lady Wildcats a 25-11 win.

In the second game, Plano quickly took a 4-3 lead.

Though Hebron brought more intensity in game two, Plano continued to play inspired defense, led by junior defensive specialist Danielle Manack.

“Danielle is a great player and she plays really hard,” Cron said. “She’s got to really be at the top of her game for us to be successful as a team.”

Hebron took a two-pt lead at 11-9, but Plano battled back with four straight points. After the Lady Wildcats gained their lead, they seemed to lose steam and fell behind, 16-12, as Hebron was able to dig a variety of shots from Plano’s best hitters.

Plano got a second wind and took the lead at 18-17, then pushed it to 21-19. But the Lady Hawks called a timeout and came out firing, winning the game, 25-22.

In game three, Plano streaked out to a 3-0 lead, which was answered by a Hebron three-point run.

The two teams exchanged volleys for the remainder of the match until it appeared Plano had the upper hand. Up 20-19, Hebron again called a timeout and came out of the break to win the decisive game, 25-23.

The Lady Wildcats finished the Texas Open with a 3-3 record.

“We win as a team and we lose as a team,” Cron said. “Right now we are just making some mistakes at critical moments. But we’re fighting as a team. They’re going to get it.”

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