Plano grabs trio of wins

August 25, 2007
By Kevin Hageland, Staff Writer

ALLEN - By the time Plano Senior’s final pool play match at the Texas Open was supposed to begin, the Lady Wildcats were already relaxing in the main gym at Allen High School.

Many of the players were eating, some were reading, and others still were focusing in preparation for the team’s next match. As opposed to last weekend’s Duncanville Tournament of Champions, which was hours behind schedule, Friday’s first round of the Texas Open was ahead of schedule.

That gave Plano extra time to reflect on their two wins and their lone loss, to a top 5 state-ranked team, while still thinking about what it would take to remain in the championship bracket.

And the Lady Wildcats evidently made good use of their extra time off as they defeated Greenhill in the first round of the championship bracket. Plano will play in the Round of 16 today against District 9-5A rival Lake Highlands at 9:15 a.m. at Ereckson Middle School.

The Lady Wildcats went 1-2 on the first day of the Duncanville Tournament and were forced to spend Saturday playing in the silver division bracket. On Friday though, Plano went 3-1 and is now four victories away from capturing the Texas Open Championship.

“We definitely played better today than during the first day of the Duncanville Tournament,” said Jennifer Cron, Plano head coach. “We got off to a slow start, but then starting playing our style of volleyball.

“We’re still trying to work out the kinks and get everyone to play as a team, not just a group of individuals.”

As Cron referred to, Plano started the day off in inauspicious fashion as the Lady Wildcats lost to Coppell, ranked No. 5 in the state, in two games. The Cowgirls won the first game, 25-14, and parlayed that momentum into a 25-18 victory in Game 2.

Plano junior defensive specialist Danielle Manack had 12 digs against Coppell and would register another nine against Odessa Permian. The outcome of that match would be much different though as the Lady Wildcats steamrolled the Lady Panthers, 25-7, 25-10. Also coming up with a big performance in the win was senior setter Mary Elizabeth Hooper, who had 21 assists.

“Our team is really learning how to win,” Cron said. “Whenever you play in tournaments like these, there are so many matches in one day it can really show your strengths and weaknesses.”

Plano showed more strength than weakness in its final pool play match of the day as the Lady Wildcats defeated Frisco Centennial in two games. Manack had nine digs and Hooper registered 15 assists in the 25-21, 25-14 victory.

Getting in on the action were two of Plano’s senior outside hitters as Christina Krone had 12 kills to lead the way, with Danielle Caldwell right behind her at 11 kills.

“Centennial is good on the outside, but we had a strong block going in that match and played very aggressively,” Cron said. “We had a lot of overall balance today; the girls played hard and kept a good attitude.”

After dropping the first match of the day to Coppell, Plano’s back-to-back wins pushed the Lady Wildcats into second place in Pool 3. The victory over Centennial was especially beneficial to Plano as it gave the team a more favorable matchup in the first round of the championship bracket.

But even after defeating Greenhil to close out the day, Cron knows there is still work left to be done if the Lady Wildcats are to compete for the tournament title.

“We are trying to balance fun and competitiveness in these tournaments,” she said. “We need to set the tone early in our matches, play with confidence and make sure every one is doing their job on the court.”

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