Lake Highlands does not let up

September 11, 2007
By Cory J. Mageors, Staff Writer

DALLAS - As Plano Senior trailed, 25-24, in game four Tuesday night, Lake Highlands junior Tori Mellinger elevated and the fans packing the bleachers nearly sucked the air right out of gymnasium.

Plano fans freighted that Mellinger, who had 24 kills on the evening, would score again. Lake Highlands fans hoped the brief moment of silence would give her enough concentration to score a final blow to Plano.

With one quick swing, Mellinger added another kill to her stats and another victory for Lake Highlands as they defeated Plano in four games.

“[Mellinger] played well tonight,” said Jennifer Cron, Plano head coach. “She made a few less mistakes than we did, but a couple of their girls had really good nights tonight.”

Plano certainly raised their expectations after defeating Allen Friday night in three games. However, Lake Highlands, ranked No. 5 in Texas, still had high expectations of their own.

In game one Plano did not look confident early, as Lake Highlands jumped out to a 7-2 lead. Lake Highlands looked like one of the top teams in the state, tearing through Plano and scoring seven of the final eight points of the game to pick up a 25-16 victory.

As Plano came out of the break, senior Danielle Caldwell scored on a powerful kill and then scored again.

Plano senior Christina Krone added two kills and Plano was suddenly leading, 12-7, and looking like they had gained their composure.

“It was nothing we didn’t expect,” Cron said. “They were good girls, they fought hard and you have to respect the way they played. We knew what kind of team they were and we knew they were going to play hard.”

Plano’s intensity was high as Caldwell and Krone appeared more comfortable than they did in the first game. And with every point they scored, it seemed to pump Plano up.

Plano extended their lead to 16-11, but two questionable calls frazzled Plano and things began to turn.

Later, Lake Highlands scored four straight points and took the lead at 19-18, their first advantage of game two. Plano was able to tie the game when senior Mary Elizabeth Hooper forced a Lake Highlands error and took a 22-21 lead when Caldwell’s serve forced another mistake. Both teams exchanged serves and Hooper forced yet another Lake Highlands error as Jenna Zorn dove for a dig and left the ball hanging over the top of the net.

Plano senior Brittany Fossier put it down for the final point of the game as Plano tied the match, 1-1.

Games three and four were equally close as Plano again jumped out to a large lead.

Plano scored six of the first nine points in game three and led 14-8 when Lake Highlands called a timeout.

However, Plano let Lake Highlands hang around and they took advantage. Suddenly, Lake Highlands leaned on Mellinger and Jennifer Stadelmann as they scored eight points and came within three at 19-16.

With Mellinger and Stadelmann on a roll, Lake Highlands scored 11 of the last 17 points and came away with a 27-25 victory.

Not to be deterred, Plano came out hot in game four, gaining a 12-4 lead. However, Lake Highlands continued to plug away and slowly worked themselves back into the game. Cron called a timeout with a 14-13 lead.

Both teams exchanged serves right down to the final play. Lake Highlands took a lead and Plano fought back as the score was tied 24-24. Two plays later though, Lake Highlands finished the night off with a 26-24 victory to take the match.

“In both games three and four we started off well and got a lead,” Cron said. “They just fought a little harder than we did and that was the difference in the match. They had a good crowd and it was an exciting environment. Our district is tough and a lot of matches will be like that with other crowds. But we still get to play them at home, so we’ll see.”

Plano will host Berkner Friday at 7 p.m.

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