West bests Lady Cats in three

October 27, 2009
BY Kevin Hageland Staff Writer

PLANO - A year ago, Plano West entered its regular season finale having already clinched the 8-5A title, but looking for the first undefeated district season in program history.

The Lady Wolves may have had more on the line Tuesday as West needed a victory against Plano Senior to keep the upstart Lady Wildcats from sweeping the season series and taking the No. 3 playoff seed in District 8-5A.

Times, circumstances and players may have changed, but the end result didn’t as West ended the 2009 regular season the same way it did in 2008: with a victory, as the Lady Wolves bested the Lady Wildcats, 25-19, 25-19, 27-25.

It wasn’t easy though as West had to come from behind in each of its set victories.

“I think this is the second-biggest home crowd we’ve had all year,” said Brittany Bridge, West head coach. “Plus it was senior night, so we had to settle down a bit from the events of the night. But once we did that, we were able to take the momentum.”

Plano, getting ample kills from senior Kenzie Thompsons, hammered West’s middle in the opening stages of the match, maintaining an edge of at least two points throughout in what would eventually become a 13-9 lead. The turning point may have come at 13-12 when Plano won an epic point that saw West junior Rachel Brummitt, who had 16 digs, working overtime to scoop up balls headed for the hardwood. The Lady Wolves dropped the point, but found the fire that had been lacking to that point.

West closed the set on a 13-5 run as the advantage on the block that had belonged to Plano for most of the opening game transferred to West, thanks to the defense of seniors Erin McNorton and Lauren McCormick. A Lady Wildcats net violation gave Game 1 to the Lady Wolves, 25-19.

Plano didn’t seem to suffer any hangover into Game 2 though as the Lady Wildcats once again positioned themselves as the frontrunners.

While Plano attacked the middle to start Game 1, the Lady Wildcats picked apart the Lady Wolves back row to take an early lead in the second set. With senior Morgan Salerno running the offense, Thompson, junior Maddy Haas and junior Kristen Robbins went on the attack, giving Plano a 9-7 advantage.

But as had been the case in the opener, a deficit was just what West needed to turn it on.

Plano ran into some communication and serve receive problems and West surged to an 11-10 lead, one they wouldn’t relinquish the rest of the way. This time it was junior Dana Galway on the outside and senior Rachael Bedell on the slide that piled up the points for the Lady Wolves. After trailing by two, West went on a 12-4 run to take a commanding 19-13 lead.

The teams split the next 10 points, keeping West in front, now 24-18. The Lady Wolves would close it out quickly from there as freshman Kacey Guajardo threw down a big kill to end the game, 25-19.

“We came out at the start of each game and were really aggressive,” said Jennifer Cron, Plano head coach. “Then we just sat back; we didn’t play poorly, but we weren’t as aggressive as the games went on.”

Déjà vu reigned in Game 3 as it was Plano that asserted itself as the aggressor once more, going ahead 6-2.

But the service game of junior Emily Johnson was enough to change that as West managed a side out and then four straight points. The last of those came on one of Bedell’s 16 kills. But the final game wouldn’t be entirely the same as its two predecessors as West didn’t keep its advantage this time. Plano junior Kelsey Hickle and sophomore Sarah Talley teamed up for a stuff that put the Lady Wildcats back in front, 8-7.

“We showed a little more fire in Game 3,” Cron said. “I thought we were in control in that game, but the shots went [West’s] way and they did a better job at the end.”

Back-and-forth play continued for the duration with multiple ties into the 20s.

The final tie came at 25-25 after West battled back three game points and Plano did the same at 25-24. The Lady Wolves would win the next two points though, closing the match out, 27-25, on a kill from junior Jordan Birdsong.

“You go through cycles every season,” Bridge said. “Now the regular season is over, so it’s time to regroup, get reenergized and get ready for the playoffs.”

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