ALLEN — After an 0-2 start, the Allen volleyball team has started to find its footing over the past week.
Despite not having one of their top players on the court Tuesday, the Lady Eagles kept building momentum behind a 3-0 sweep (25-19, 25-14, 25-20) over visiting Plano East. The win was Allen’s third straight, while the Lady Panthers (2-2) had a two-game winning streak snapped after picking up sweeps of South Grand Prairie and South Garland.
“They played well. Our ball control and serving were good,” said Kelley Gregoriew, Allen head coach. “They had a big block and we had to figure out how to get around that, and I thought they did a good job adapting to it.”
Navigating around a stifling Lady Panther block was top of mind for the Lady Eagles on Tuesday. East was aggressive at the net throughout the first set, rejecting five Allen shot attempts with Krista Dooly and Kinsey Killion leading that charge.
“We’ve got a great block. We were having trouble closing it up at times, but whenever they get it together we have a pretty big wall there,” said Cathy Loggins, East head coach.
The Lady Panthers recorded 11 blocks overall, although Allen made adjustments as the match progressed.
“We talked about having to run stuff forcing them to cross and forcing them to make decisions,” Gregoriew said. “When you go at them straight, it makes it too easy on that size of a block.
“They’re a good blocking team, so I was excited to bring the dynamic and change in the offense to get around it.”
For as potent as East’s defense was at times on Tuesday, Allen had more avenues to putting up points and flexed that versatility when called upon. After a Killion block trimmed the Lady Panthers’ deficit to 20-18 in the first set, the Lady Eagles responded with five of the set’s next six points en route to a 25-19 win. For the set, five different Allen players tallied multiple kills, taking turns down the stretch with junior Emma Janek and seniors Maddie Wendland and Maya Joseph all contributing to help Allen pull away in the opening frame.
“When we played some of our games early, we were setting some people too much and they were getting worn out,” Gregoriew said. “We want to move it around so they’re not sure what we’re doing. We’ve been working on a lot of redirection drills and making more intelligent choices to try and make it tougher on the other side.”
Junior Divine Muo led the Lady Eagles with nine kills in the win, complemented by seven kills from senior Maya Detwiler. Joseph chipped in three blocks, while Janek led the club in both aces (three) and assists (14) in the win.
The Lady Panthers benefited from six kills and two blocks from Tayah Little, who recently verbally committed to Texas A&M Corpus Christi. Little came alive late in the second set during a stretch where she accounted for three consecutive points for East.
“She has been amazing. She’s normally a middle who has been playing outside for us, but whenever we put her back in the middle, sparks start flying because she loves to do that,” Loggins said. “We had to make some changes there for a little energy and excitement, and she caught fire.”
Sarah Holcomb added five kills and three blocks for East, while Killion chipped in five kills and four blocks. Nevertheless, steady offense was tough to come by on Tuesday — something Loggins attributed to the team still ironing out kinks with its passing.
“We couldn’t get a pass in front of the 10-foot line. At the end of the game when we started passing up where we were supposed to, we were able to run our offense,” she said. “With the passes way off to the middle of the court, it was really difficult to run a fast offense and get our hitters really working.”
Cleaner offense helped East keep pace in the third stanza, trailing Allen late in the set, 22-19, and allowed the team to showcase some versatility of its own with five recording at least two kills. But as was the case in the opening frame, Allen had an answer down the stretch and pulled away behind a pair of kills from Muo to win its third straight match.
The Lady Eagles look to stay hot at noon Saturday when they welcome former district foe Plano. That same time, East visits Lake Highlands.