Plano overcomes early stumble, beats Allen

October 21, 2008
BY Andrew Snyder Staff Writer

ALLEN -- After Friday’s Allen-Plano Senior football game, the district rivals had extra reason to play a furious game.

Feeding off a school-wide motivation for revenge, Plano reversed the roles established on the field and caste itself as the victor on the court. The Wildcats won in four with game scores of 12-25, 25-17, 25-17, 25-20.

Contributing fully to the Plano win was a solid front-line that both defended its own court and dominated Allen’s. Each team favored a different method of hitting; the Lady Eagles struck the ball hard and attempted to overpower the Lady Wildcats, while Plano hit softer and coaxed the ball into holes in Allen’s defense.

“They put up strong blocking, so we had to find ways around it,” said Jennifer Cron, Plano head coach. “There are holes in every court and we had to find them.”

The Plano method proved the more effective over the whole match, but when the Lady Eagles had full energy in Game 1 they made good use of it.

The kill/block combination of senior Brittney Robers and junior DJ Phee was largely responsible for that sole Allen win of the night. Leading Game 1 off with alternating kills, the pair was present all over the court. Hard hitting senior Sarah Bullock contributed a string of kills, she had 10 for the match, but in this game she played a defensively focused role that served the team well.

“We played great,” said Kelley Gregoriew, Allen head coach. “We were passing well, hitting well and communicating well.”

Plano had a hand in its own loss by making hitting errors and penalties.

“We had lots of penalties in the first game,” Cron said. “We weren’t as aggressive as Allen.”

Clumsy play cost the Lady Wildcats any chance at recovery and allowed the Lady Eagles several easy points. Further, Plano had yet to find out how to exploit the wide Allen defense and therefore had trouble scoring. But any criticism the Lady Wildcats took in the first game was more than made up for in the next three.

“We had a goal,” Cron said. “I told them after they’d just lost Game 1 that there are a lot of games left in the match. They answered.”

Games 2 and 3 played out similarly, had the same end score (25-17) and even ended the same way n with a violation.

Plano was now appearing aggressive, while Allen was sluggish, unable to extend its opening aggression into more games. Offensively, the Lady Wildcats had learned how to operate.

Leading the point and kill tallies were junior Kenzie Thompson and sophomore Maddy Haas with 12 kills and 3 aces by Thompson and 8 kills by Haas.

Haas was a defensive leader as well and prowled the net for five assisted blocks, most of which came alongside junior Caiti Wenger who had four assisted blocks. Senior Danielle Manack was another, if not the, powerhouse guardian for the Lady Wildcats as she had 42 digs for the match.

“Our defense was outstanding. [Manack] was outstanding,” Cron said. “We couldn’t have done it without her.”

Just as Plano had done earlier, Allen pushed itself to defeat. Game 4, while the tightest of the four, was evidence of an inability by the Lady Eagles to play strongly in pressure situations. Two consecutive aces by Thompson late in Game 4 furthered the Plano lead and the impression that Allen was just not fully in the game. Each ace serve was met by lax Lady Eagles serve receive that could have been tightened up a game back when the match wasn’t on the line.

“Defense wins games,” Gregoriew said. “And we kind of stopped playing defense.”

With the athletic tally at 1-1 for Allen and Plano matchups, fans will have to wait for a rematch or another sport to tip the balance in either teams favor.

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