PLANO – It was only fitting that Plano West’s first outright district volleyball championship since 2008 was won on the coattails of a comeback.
After Allen steamrolled the Lady Wolves by 11 points in the first set, West rebounded to win the next three, taking the match, 3-1 (14-25, 25-19, 25-22, 25-19) and claiming the 6-6A title with a record of 11-3.
The loss dropped Allen to 9-5 and into a three-way tie for second place with Plano Senior and Denton Guyer, both of whom won on Tuesday. However, Allen’s better head-to-head record against Plano and Guyer gives the Lady Eagles the No. 2 playoff seed, with Plano at No. 3 and Guyer at No. 4.
There will be no coin flip or pre-playoff tournament for West, which will face the No. 4 seed from 5-6A in the bi-district round of the playoffs, set for next week.
“It’s a huge relief to just be able to sit back and wait and prepare for our opponent,” said Brittany Bridge, West head coach. “If we had lost tonight, we most likely would have had to play Allen again to determine first place, and I really didn’t want to beat our kids up before the playoffs even started. We’re battle-tested enough.”
Bridge said herself and the other head coaches from 6-6A’s playoff teams will meet with the playoff head coaches from 5-6A later this week to discuss details of the bi-district round. 5-6A’s final standings are a mirror image of 6-6A, with Hebron the outright champion and a tie for second place between Southlake Carroll, Byron Nelson and Flower Mound.
“I think we’re in a pretty good spot,” said Kelley Gregoriew, Allen head coach. “We obviously wanted to get one of the four spots, and it’s always tough playing in [District 6-6A]. We’ve got to clean up some mistakes and get healthy, but I feel pretty good about where we are going into the playoffs.”
Against West, senior Grace Klepetka had 16 kills and four digs, and senior Alina Lam had 22 assists. Senior Alex Springate added 10 digs and 10 assists.
An improbable season as any in recent program history, West entered the 2017 campaign looking to rebuild for the future with an expected starting lineup of only two seniors. All Bridge got was outstanding play by her freshman and sophomore contributors en route to a shocking 11 wins in one of the toughest districts in the state.
Those young players were outstanding Tuesday against Allen: Sophomore Jill Pressly had another stat-stuffing night with 17 kills, 13 digs and two aces, and fellow sophomore Iman Ndiaye added 21 kills from her outside hitter position. Freshman Ashley Le had 22 assists, nine digs, four kills and three aces.
“I’m kind of speechless,” Bridge said. “One of my senior girls that I’ve coached since I was little came up to me and reminded me of a conversation we had before the season. She said to me, ‘Coach, I know we’re rebuilding this year, and I’m fine with that – I just want to play.’ And then we go on and win the district championship.
“But even if you look at tonight, we lose the first set by 11 points and then come back and win three in a row, that’s completely indicative of this team. They never give up on anything.”
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