Lady Wildcats roll over Plano East

September 25, 2007
By Kevin Hageland, Staff Writer

PLANO - Usually a game is the culmination of a player’s hard work. But Tuesday night, facing Plano Senior (4-2 in district) was just the beginning for Plano East (2-4).

Still missing senior libero Jamie Simanek, who sat on the bench with a green cast around her right wrist, the Lady Panthers lost in three games. After the defeat, all East head coach Marcy Crabtree had to say was that her team was, “Heading back to the gym tonight for practice.”

Crabtree’s frustration stems from a loss that saw her team unable to capitalize on a multitude of opportunities in games two and three.

While East would keep it close in the latter two games, the opener was controlled by Plano. The Lady Wildcats got out to a sizable 22-14 lead before the city rivals split the next four points to put Plano on the cusp of a game one victory.

That would become a reality one point later as an ace gave the Lady Wildcats a 25-16 victory and the momentum heading into game two. And that game would start out exactly as the first one ended as a Plano ace gave the Lady Wildcats a quick lead.

The advantage grew to 5-1 after another ace, this time by junior Emily Kohn. But East proved to have its own dynamic servers as an ace by senior Malyssa Acton capped a run of four straight points that evened the game, 5-5. Acton was far from done though as the Lady Panthers surged to a 9-5 lead on her service game.

East remained ahead, 14-10, before Plano won five of the next six points to even the game at 15-15. After trading side outs back-and-forth, the Lady Wildcats took the lead by winning four straight points. That run culminated with a questionable line call that put Plano ahead, 21-17.

The Lady Panthers came right back though and reeled off four straight points of their own to tie the game once more, this time 21-21. That would be the last point East won in the game though as Plano captured the final four points, with the finish coming on a kill by senior Brittany Fossier, to take a two-game lead.

East could have packed it in, but stayed strong in the early stages of game three as a big kill by junior Samantha Wendling tied the score, 3-3. Plano took the lead for the remainder of the final game though after winning the next two points. The Lady Wildcats went ahead, 5-3, on a block by Fossier.

“Our defense still isn’t perfect, but it has definitely improved since the start of the season,” said Jennifer Cron, Plano head coach. “And playing great defense, while also cutting down on errors, is something we will always be focused on.”

Three out of the next four points went to Plano as the Lady Wildcats took an 8-4 lead and forced an East timeout. The final point of the run came on an ace by Christina Krone, who had three on the night along with a team-high nine kills. In addition to Plano’s proclivity for aces, the Lady Wildcats had just one service error on the evening.

Plano remained ahead, 11-7, after winning a point that saw a spike go off the face of East junior Mandie Freeman with so much force that it ricocheted back over the net. But that kill appeared to inspire the Lady Panthers as they won the next three points to move to within 11-10.

East stayed close, but was unable to take the lead or even tie the game until Acton and freshman Lizzy Carpenter teamed up for a block that made the score, 20-20. The Lady Panthers took their first lead of the game one point later and forced a Plano timeout.

Coming out of the timeout, East continued to play well and appeared primed to force a fourth game after taking a 23-21 lead. But Plano won the next two points, the last of which came on an ace by senior Leslie Mirarchi, who also had four blocks, to even the score, 23-23, and force another East timeout.

Krone had a tap back on the next point to give Plano a 24-23 lead and senior Mary Elizabeth Hooper closed things out with a forceful tip to the back corner of the court.

Plano junior Danielle Manack led the team, which plays again Friday at Richardson, with 16 digs.

“I think our team has shown that we can play with any of the top teams,” Cron said. “Our goal is to finish the first round of district play solidly in the No. 3 spot; after that, it will be about fighting for position.

“We want to be first or second in the district, but we can’t lose track of those teams behind us. Right now, I think we are someone to reckon with.”

As for East, it will look to get back in the win column Friday when the Lady Panthers close the first half of district play by hosting Allen.

A late-night practice could be a good omen for East as the last time such a tactic was employed came after day one of the Texas Open. The Lady Panthers finished 2-2 that day, but came back and went 4-0 on day two en route to winning the challenger bracket.

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