Consistent inconsistency does Plano in against Allen

Tuesday, October 5, 2010 11:17 PM CDT
BY Kevin Hageland

ALLEN - Up 10-2 in the third set, it would appear as though Plano Senior (3-5 in district) was the team leading the match with Allen, 2-0.

But by the end of that game, it was clear why the Lady Eagles (7-1) had captured the sweep (25-21, 25-18, 25-21).

“We were more aggressive at the start of Game 3 and had some really good serving,” said Jennifer Cron, Plano head coach. “But then we got back to being inconsistent and, at this point in the season, that is bothersome.”

Allen closed what would be the final game on a 23-11 run that was buoyed by an 8-0 spurt that turned an 18-16 deficit into a 24-18 advantage. Down 10-2, thanks in large part to the serving of Plano senior Taylor Story, Allen junior Tori Bates got the Lady Eagles going with a big kill and the team inched closer with a combination of crisper serving and more of a presence at the net.

“I think we felt a little too confident being up 2-0 and we sort of slid back into some bad habits in Game 3,” said Taylor Gross,” Allen senior. “But after we fell behind, we knew we had to step it up and the seniors did a really good job.”

One of those seniors, Leslie Grimes, tied the set up at 18-18 before Allen took its first lead following a Plano hitting error.

That gap eventually extended to 24-18. Plano fired back from there with three straight points, the last of which came on an ace from junior Bethany Werner, but would get no more as a service error clinched the match for Allen.

“I think once we gained the momentum in Game 3 that got into Plano’s head,” said Kelley Gregoriew, Allen head coach, “especially since they had lost the first two games.”

An Allen win didn’t seem like a sure thing in the early stages of the match as there were ties in Game 1 from the start into the teens. Plano created some separation when Story notched the first of her four aces, but Allen stayed close and took a 20-18 lead following a kill off a slide by Gross. The Lady Wildcats followed up with a slide of their own as sophomore Maddie Morell put down one of her team-high seven kills.

“I thought we started out well in Game 1,” Cron said. “We had a good game plan, we just couldn’t execute it for the entire match.”

Allen won five of the final seven points to grab a 25-21 victory with a net violation against Plano proving to be the Game 1 clincher.

Game 2 was less in doubt thanks to a plethora of Plano hitting errors.

“We were hugely inconsistent in Game 2 and that just killed us,” Cron said. “We just couldn’t get anything to go in our direction tonight.”

The same could not be said on the other side of the net as the Allen block came alive.

“I think our block really played well in Game 2,” Gross said. “We got our timing down and were able to alter a lot of Plano’s shots.”

Gregoriew agreed with that assessment.

“We talked a lot about adjusting our timing on the block,” she said, “and just getting there.”

Allen parlayed its blocked shots into a number of kills that attacked Plano’s back line. Whether it was a free ball, conventional termination or tip, the Lady Eagles continually placed balls just inside the line.

Contrast that with Plano, which would get a kill from Morell and block by either freshman Aubrey Davis or junior Ashley McDowell only to see it followed up with an error. Down, 24-14, the Lady Wildcats would reel off four straight points, but got no closer as a lift call gave the set to the Lady Eagles, 25-18.

“I thought we played a lot better tonight across the board,” Gregoriew said. “We were able to run our offense, put the setters in good position, put balls away and, with the exception of that one lapse at the start of Game 3, had good serve receive.

Those qualities were evident in the Game 3, which gave Allen the sweep.

“Any win under our belt is a good one,” Gregoriew said. “This is a tough district and we just want to get into the top four.”

That is the same goal Plano has, but the prospects are dimming as the Lady Wildcats are in fifth place but trail third and fourth by three games with just six 8-5A matches remaining.

“It’s another gut check for us,” Cron said. “We know we are fighting an uphill battle, but the only thing we can do is come out Friday and play well.”

Plano is on the road Friday with a 6 p.m. match against Hebron.

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