Plano eliminated by Southlake Carroll

November 6, 2008
BY Andrew Snyder Staff Writer

COPPELL -- Plano Senior was eliminated from the playoffs Thursday by Southlake Carroll in a three-game sweep, 26-24, 25-11, 25-10.

The Lady Wildcats performance decreased as the night dragged on and as the end of their season drew near.

That line of thought was on Carroll players’ minds as well, but it had the opposite effect for them.

“Our goal was to leave no regrets on the floor,” said Wyvonne Walling, Carroll head coach. “To play as if this were our last game.”

But Plano did show fight in Game 1. Lady Wildcats Senior Paige Webb, who had nine kills on the night, led an offensive assault that meant an early lead and kept the Lady Dragons on edge. Down 12-11, Carroll committed a string of errors that pushed them further behind. Defensive groundwork from senior Danielle Manack helped Plano maintain an advantage through most of Game 1.

But as the point-spread tightened, the Lady Wildcats play weakened. They began making mishits and accruing penalties of their own. With the score tied, 22-22, the players from each team were desperate to not give up points and made double touches to keep the ball in play.

Carroll seniors Rachel Zarazan and Hannah Herndon had been at the front of the Lady Dragons offense when they were down and now tied, they pushed them into a win. A commanding Zarazan kill moved the score to match point and a dual block from senior Sally Johnson and junior McHaney Carter gave the win to the Lady Dragons.

This close defeat broke the spirits of the Lady Wildcats. Their game play took a sharp decline while Carroll’s rocketed upward.

“After Game 1 I think we started seeing the end of the season as a possibility,” said Jennifer Cron, Plano head coach. “We got scared of that.”

That fear showed in their play as the Lady Wildcats seemed to avoid the ball. Huge holes appeared in their defense and even moderately strong Lady Dragon serves turned into aces. Herndon and senior Kristen Duckworth tallied eight aces over the next two games.

And while Plano's front-line was struggling to block or field kills from Johnson, Zarazan or Herndon, whose attempts looked like guarantees, the Lady Dragons shut down Lady Wildcats hitters at the net.

“We talked to the front-line and told them they needed to step it up a notch,” Walling said. “We talked to the middle, gave them a challenge and told them to step it up too.”

The encouragement worked wonders as the Lady Dragons outscored Plano, 50-21, in the last two games. Carter continuously dug up balls which the entire Carroll team deftly maneuvered to lead Duckworth and Herndon.

The two girls posted an impressive variety of shots and proved a full force across the court. Herndon has three aces, seven kills, six assists and four blocks on the night while Duckworth had five aces, 19 assists and eight digs.

Plano walked away from the match defeated and its seniors were left with a disappointment in how the season ended.

“They’re a good team, but we didn’t play to our potential,” Manack said. “If we had we could have stayed with them.”

The best the Lady Wildcats can hope for now is revenge via another District 8-5A team.

“I hope someone from our district takes them out,” Webb said.

On the other side of the court, the Lady Dragons, who face Plano West next, were ecstatic. Turns out Carroll had been waiting awhile for this moment.

“We set out as our goal in August to win a district and a state championship,” Walling said. “When [our seniors] were in ninth grade they made shirts that said ‘State ’08.’”

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