Plano wins Round 3 of Cat Clash

Wednesday, September 30, 2008
BY Kevin Hageland Staff Writer

PLANO -- It’s a good thing Plano Senior-Plano East is such a strong rivalry or Plano ISD sports fans could begin suffering from Wildcats-Panthers fatigue.

The squads competed in tennis last Tuesday and football Thursday, with Plano getting the best of things both times, but Tuesday night was a chance for volleyball to shine and the Lady Panthers to get a measure of revenge.

Only one of things occurred though as Plano ended the week-long Cat Clash with a four-game win to complete the three-sport sweep of East.

“It’s a huge victory,” said Jennifer Cron, Plano head coach. “And it will probably be even bigger down the road.”

East won the first two points of the match, thanks in part to a block by junior Chandler Baker, but it was mostly Plano from there. The Lady Wildcats strung together runs of 7-2, started by a throwdown from senior Paige Webb, and 10-2 en route to establishing a 20-8 advantage.

During those runs, Lady Wildcats junior Caiti Wenger notched a vicious kill to put the score at 13-6. In a seven-point hole, East called a timeout and the Lady Panthers ran sprints on their side of the court.

That seven-point deficit would eventually become 12 as East’s serve receive was out of sync, slowing the entire offense down.

The Lady Panthers rebounded in the latter half of the opener as the visitors closed the set on a 13-5 run. That wasn’t enough though as East got to within 24-21 before Wenger broke the Lady Panthers’ 5-point run, on the serve of senior Wendy Krell, with a game-ending kill to make it 25-21.

Any momentum East gained with its late push in Game 1 was squandered early in Game 2 as a Wenger kill and net violation put East in a 9-3 hole. Things didn’t get much better from there as Plano continued to use a wave of deep serves to keep East off balance. Back-to-back kills from Wenger meant another East timeout with the score now at 15-4.

Plano established an even bigger lead when a huge dig from senior Danielle Manack set up a kill from sophomore Maddy Haas and 20-6 Lady Wildcats’ advantage.

East would get just two more points as an ace by Plano junior Kenzie Thompson and Lady Panthers’ error gave the Lady Wildcats a dominating 25-8 victory and two-set advantage.

“We wanted to defend our house,” Webb said. “And this was a crucial match because we are still tied for first [in district] and we want to prove to everyone that we can be the best.”

East won the first three points of Game 3, courtesy of a Plano miscommunication and back-to-back service aces from senior Maci Young, and this time the Lady Wildcats would not charge back in front.

Blocks from East seniors Alex Woolsey and Allison Brown made the score 8-5 and 11-6, respectively, as the Lady Panthers took control by exposing Plano’s block. An ace from senior Mandie Freeman kept East’s five-point lead intact at 16-11, and Cron drew a yellow card one point later.

The Lady Wildcats pulled to within one point, at 18-17, after back-to-back service winners from junior Kristen Niethamer, but the home team would get no closer as the Lady Panthers took Game 3, 25-22.

“This was a critical match for us,” Manack said. “We’ve had trouble lately letting up after two games, so we knew after Game 3 we had to put it down.”

East senior Samantha Wendling was on her game during the early stages of the fourth set, with several clutch digs, but so was the Plano block as the home team took the lead at 8-7. The Lady Wildcats didn’t trail from there and finished the match, 25-16, on a Lady Panthers service error.

“We played well all-around tonight, but we struggled in Game 3,” Cron said. “But that’s why this district is so tough; there are no easy opponents and no non-important matches.”

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