Thrilling win puts Plano in championship bracket

Friday, August 22, 2008
By Cory J. Mageors, Staff Writer

ALLEN -- Plano Senior finished as the top seed in Division 2 during pool play Friday at the Texas Open, but the Lady Wildcats knew that wouldn’t mean anything if they didn’t win the cross-over match to close out the day.

And at times it appeared as though that is what would happen as Duncanville took Game 1 as well as the first six points in Game 2. Plano controlled the match from there though, winning in three games to finish Day 1 with a 3-1 mark.

“I told the girls before the match that this was for the championship bracket,” said Jennifer Cron, Plano head coach. “And that can be a very motivating factor.”

The match didn’t start well for Plano as after an early 4-4 tie, Duncanville reeled off five straight points to force the Lady Wildcats to call the first timeout of the match. Though Plano didn’t regain the lead, a 5-2 run brought the team to within one point, at 16-15, as it was now Duncanville’s turn to call a timeout.

The Lady Panthers never opened up more than a three-point cushion from there, but Plano wasn’t able to tie the set or take the lead. A Duncanville service error made it 24-22 and Lady Wildcats junior Michelle Rogers followed that with a service winner to pull her team within 24-23.

The tying point didn’t come for Plano though as a Duncanville kill was partially blocked on the next play, but dropped in to give the Lady Panthers the Game 1 win, 25-23.

“We had some mind lapses in Game 1,” said Carly Hoeler, Plano senior. “But we played very intensely in Games 2 and 3 and really fought for the win.”

Duncanville’s momentum rolled into Game 2 as the Lady Panthers sprinted out to a 6-0 lead. A kill from Plano sophomore Maddy Hass broke that run, but the Lady Wildcats still had a lot of work to do.

“We took them a bit lightly at first and were really struggling with their high middle set,” Cron said. “It’s bad anytime a team gets a run on you like that; so we changed our offense and focused on slowing them down.”

An abundance of tips and lack of kills stifled some of that progress early, but Plano eventually crept back to within 16-13. That deficit didn’t last long though as the Lady Wildcats won the next four points, with a kill from senior Paige Webb giving them a 17-16 edge. There would be two ties after that, but Plano didn’t trail again as strong defense kept the club in front and a kill from Haas finished the game, 25-22, and evened the match.

That set the stage for a Game 3 that was even more dramatic than its predecessors. Ties occurred at 4-4, 8-8 and 11-11 as both teams feverishly jockeyed for an edge. That advantage came four points later as Duncanville went on a 4-0 run to force a Plano timeout.

The Lady Panthers won the next point, making it 16-11, before the Lady Wildcats went on a four-point run, capped by an ace from Hoeler, to tighten the match once again at 16-15. The match was tied at 20-20 after a Duncanville side out, but that would be the Lady Panthers final point of the match.

Senior Danielle Manack got Plano’s final run started with an ace. A combo block by Hoeler and Haas made it 23-20, and a kill by Hoeler put the Lady Wildcats through to the championship bracket.

“This is so awesome,” Hoeler said. “And we’re all really excited about tomorrow.”

The eventual three-game win was Plano’s third victory of the day. The Lady Wildcats also defeated Austin McNeil, 25-19, 25-10, and Mansfield Legacy, 25-18, 25-16, in pool play. Plano’s lone defeat Friday came at the hands of Flower Mound.

“We reached our expectations for the day and I’m really proud of our effort,” Cron said. “Hopefully we can go out and do it again tomorrow.”


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