Lady Wildcats scratch out final non-district foe

September 8, 2010
BY Damon Sayles,

PLANO - Tuesday couldn’t have come at a more opportune time for the Plano Senior volleyball team.

With the start of District 8-5A play kicking off this weekend, Plano needed a big win against a worthy opponent. The Lady Wildcats faced an Arlington Martin team with tons of winning tradition and scored a confidence-boosting victory just in time to get ready for Friday’s district opener at Allen.

Plano downed Martin (20-25, 25-22, 27-25, 25-13) and showed it can play with one of the area’s most respected teams.

“I know [Martin has] beaten some good teams, and it certainly didn’t end the way they wanted it to,” said Jennifer Cron, Plano head coach. “They had a lot of errors, but I think you’ve got to give credit to my kids. They played very hard and turned it up at the net.”

Senior outside hitter and co-captain Taylor Story added: “We’ve accomplished a lot since the beginning of the season, but this one is like a milestone.”

Plano improved to 11-10 on the year and did so with perseverance. The Lady Wildcats lost the first game of the match and trailed late in the second game before turning things around with quality play on both sides of the net.

The third game may have been Plano’s most memorable.

After trailing, 24-20, the Wildcats scored the next five points and won the game with a kill by senior Kendal Eckerd and a block from sophomore Maddie Morrell on Martin’s 6-1 senior standout Alexis Mourning.

“It was a fun night,” Cron said. “It could have gone either way, but the kids really stepped up. It was important for us to win that third game. They got the thirst, and they kept thriving. It was a great effort.”

Plano’s effort in the third game spilled over immensely in the fourth. Plano and Martin were tied at 13 when a Story kill gave the Lady Wildcats the lead. From there, Plano capitalized on kills, aces, blocks and Martin errors.

Story, senior co-captain Kelsey Hickle and juniors Allison Butler and Brittany Brunson all had major roles Tuesday. The impact players down the stretch, however, were Plano’s youngest teammates.

Morrell, sophomore Samantha Seal and freshman Aubrey Davis all were huge in Plano’s 12-0 run to end the match. Morrell and Seal were key factors defensively, blocking two Martin kill attempts during that stretch.

“Maddie did an awesome job with her blocking and hitting, and Sam really brought it this game,” Story said. “It makes me happy and proud to see the kids doing it – even though they’re only like a year or two younger.”

Plano had arguably its best outing of the season against a determined, experienced Martin unit. It’ll need to have an equally good performance Friday if it wants to beat an Allen team that is as competitive – and as hungry to win – as the Lady Wildcats are.

“[The win] helps our confidence, but we’re not going to get too cocky about it,” Story said. “We’re now ready, though, and we’re pumped for district.”

Cron added: “We’ve shown a lot of promise. We know we can play with people, but it was important for us to know that we could win the big matches.”

Big win for the JV Cats as well

Just days before Plano’s triumph on the varsity court, the Lady Wildcats junior varsity team picked up several notable wins as they took first at the Arlington Lamar Invitational for a second straight year.

Not only did the Lady Wildcats win, they didn’t drop a set along the way Saturday.

Plano, which is coached by Lauren Moffett, marched to the finals by defeating Mansfield Legacy (25-14, 25-13), Arlington Lamar (25-16, 25-14) and Flower Mound Marcus (25-18, 25-17).

That meant a rematch of the 2009 tournament final as Plano once again faced Grapevine, which defeated Arlington, Arlington Martin and Southlake Carroll to get to the championship match.

Different year, same result as the Lady Wildcats defeated the Lady Mustangs (25-23, 25-13) for a second straight title.

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