Cats scratch competition itch in Allen

August 22, 2009
BY Andrew Snyder Staff Writer

ALLEN -- During the volleyball tournament season, matches aren’t restricted by district or school size.

So, the Texas Open was one of the few chances teams like McKinney North and Plano Senior had to play out the storied rivalry of cats versus dogs. This time, the former won out as the Lady Wildcats won in two games, 25-14, 25-23, over the Lady Bulldogs.

“When our passing and our transitions are going well, we can be good” said Jennifer Cron, Plano head coach. “That’s what we’re trying to get more consistent at.”

Plano senior Caiti Wenger was at the center of the Lady Wildcats offense, notching eight kills to match McKinney North senior Allison Stubbs, the Lady Bulldogs team leader. Each of these players performed steadily across the match, when they weren’t hitting spurts of dominance. The most noticeable examples included when Stubbs rallied North from a 21-15 deficit late in Game 2 or when Wenger posted back-to-back kills and blocks to move the Lady Wildcats toward their dominant finish in Game 1.

Errors on the Lady Bulldogs part provided further separation in the opening game.

“We had a lot of errors,” said Alysia Neill, North head coach. “We were trying to do too much. They had a big blocker over there and I think we felt like we needed to do more than we really needed to on our hitting, and we just made some mistakes.”

Joining Wenger on the defensive was junior Kristen Robbins, who posted nine game-wide digs. Completing the Plano numbers tally were senior setter Michelle Rogers, with 13 assists, and sophomore Alexa Novoa, who had six kills.

By the time North had cut back on the net balls and out-of-bounds shots that bolstered Plano’s score in the first game, it was too late to do much more than tighten the score. Neill said her team’s inconsistency, which both opponents showed according to the game scores, took a toll. But overall, she was pleased with how the Lady Bulldogs played.

“I think we had a good tournament,” Neill said.

Earlier in the day, the Lady Bulldogs had played a similar match against another District 8-5A team, Wylie, but with the finals reversed in their favor, 25-13, 25-21. That match saw senior Audra Paine and sophomore Alayna Jackson each tally multiple aces and Stubbs account for 10 kills and 12 digs. The Lady Wildcats won their earlier match in the Challenger Bracket against Arlington, 25-17, 25-21. The loss to Plano knocked North out of the tournament and advanced the Lady Wildcats to the challenger semis, where they lost to John Paul in three games.

Plano’s victory over North came in spite of injured and sick players that put a dent in roster depth. The Lady Bulldogs also had a key player unable to perform at her normal level, as recently injured Jackson saw playing time, but not at her normal level, up front.

Still, the necessary adjustments may pay dividends for each team in the future.

“Everyone had to step up,” Cron said. “But it’ll be good for us in the long run, knowing everyone can get in.”

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