West scratches out Lady Cats, forces playoff coin flip

October 26, 2010
BY Matt Welch, mwelch@acnpapers.com

PLANO – The Plano West volleyball team entered Tuesday night’s district finale against Plano Senior with a playoff spot already locked up.

That’s been the case for a while now with the Lady Wolves, but there still remains unsolved business before postseason play can get underway. By virtue of its third-place tie with Allen, Tuesday’s matchup against the Lady Wildcats held as much importance as any other showdown between the two city rivals.

But West wasn’t one for scoreboard-watching and instead let its play take care of business in a 3-0 sweep over a gutsy Plano bunch (25-20, 25-17, 26-24).

“Plano is one of those teams where if you’re not careful, they can sneak up on you,” said Brittany Bridge, West head coach. “…The match was important for us tonight because if we slipped up, it could put us in a slot that we maybe didn’t want to be in.”

With both West and Allen, who bested Flower Mound in a 3-0 sweep on Tuesday as well, gridlocked at 10-4 to wrap up play in District 8-5A, a coin flip will determine who will be seeded third and fourth for the playoffs.

With Tuesday marking West’s Senior Night, Bridge made it a point to get all of her seniors in action. The results proved vastly the same in West’s 10th district win, and eigth win in its last 10 district contests.

Plano (4-10) didn’t go quietly into the night though, rallying back from a 17-10 deficit in the third set to secure a 24-24 tie opposite the Lady Wolves.

“We were down by a lot, especially in the third game,” said Jennifer Cron, Plano head coach, “but they came back. It really shows the amount of fight that they have where they know we weren’t playing to get into the playoffs. They were just fighting for pride and I’m proud of them.”

The late rally was led in part by the pinpoint hitting of senior Taylor Story, whose final game for Plano capped at a team-high eight kills alongside fellow senior Kelsey Hickle. Sophomore Samantha Seal chipped in six kills.

But as had been the case in all three sets, a Plano attack error marked the final point in the frame to seal the West win.

All three sets began the same way too, with West freshman Sarah Bennett posting a kill. On the night, Bennett recorded a match-best 11 kills, with senior Jordan Birdsong and sophomore Katie Stebbins adding six and five kills, respectively.

Sophomore Abbey Curry dropped four kills for the Lady Wolves, utilizing her deceptive dump attack to catch Plano napping at times.

“We’ve been talking to [Curry] about making herself more of a factor,” Bridge said. “We know we’re not a huge, offensive team, so for your setter to get a few kills in the match is very important, especially in a long rally.

“…Tonight was probably one of the best nights in a while where she has put away some balls on the floor.”

Defensively, both teams were on-point through two sets before giving way to a third frame that featured 34 total kills. For West, senior Rachel Brummit buckled the Plano attack early and often, with a number of clutch digs added by senior Caroline Namazi, including one which led to West rallying back in the first set to a 13-13 tie.

“It’s Senior Night and they all want to play well on Senior Night,” Bridge said. “[Namazi] has been a bit up and down lately, but it was great to see her make some big, solid plays to build confidence as we move on.”

The Lady Wolves found themselves in a hole as steep as 11-7 to start. That was in part due to a balanced Plano attack, coupled with brickwall-esque defense from junior Allison Butler and senior Alyssa Hill in the back row.

“We did a good job passing and moving the ball,” Cron said. “We were to get everybody involved, which makes it a lot harder to stop when there are different players attacking.”

Amid West tying to count at 13-13, the Lady Wolves steadily pulled away late behind a string of Plano attack errors for the eventual 25-20 win.

West was a bit more emphatic one set later, leading by as many as eight points as Plano tallied 10 errors to only eight kills on the set. West was a bit more positively-keeled at 13 kills to six errors in managing the 25-17 win.

With District 7-5A breadwinners Southlake Carroll and Keller Central tied for first at 13-1, a coin flip between the two will determine their seeding and whom West will open bi-district play against.

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