ROWLETT—Last season, the first round of the volleyball playoffs did not go well for 10-6A, as they were swept by their 9-6A opposition.
Sachse was included in that group and was determined not to let history repeat itself.
The Mustangs got off to a fast start and then made the plays they needed down the stretch in the next two games to close out a 25-15, 25-22, 25-22 sweep of Allen on Tuesday in a Class 6A bi-district playoff match at Rowlett High School.
Sachse (42-7), who is ranked No. 17 in the Texas Girls Coaches Association Class 6A state poll, advances to the area round, where they will meet 11-6A co-champion Rockwall-Heath (22-20), a 25-21, 25-14, 25-14 winner of Belton, later this week at a time and place to be determined.
“I’m very pleased,” Sachse head coach Rikki Jones said. “My outsides were fabulous, they really stepped up tonight and did a good job. I think our serving was good. They got us out of system quite a few times, but I thought our serving got them out of system a little bit … it was a back and forth match for the most part until we got on some service runs so I think that was the big difference.”
With its season on the line after dropping the first two sets, Allen came out determined in Game 3, as Maddie Wendland had two of her team-high 14 kills to stake them to a 9-5 lead.
Two more smashes from Wendland maintained the advantage at 11-8, but Shaliyah Rhoden countered for Sachse to spark a 6-0 run. Claire Romo served five of those points, which included big-time blocks from Rhoden, Mikaela Brown and Jhayla Bolden and a kill from Macy Taylor that gave the Mustangs a 14-11 lead.
Zoria Heard then delivered a pair of aces and Kayla Grant had a kill and a block to push the advantage to 22-14.
Allen never went away, getting good play at the net from Wendland, Maya Detwiler and Chloe Thomas, and they were able to fend off four match points before Rhoden’s 14th kill of the night ended it at 25-22.
“I thought we played good defense, I thought we passed well, there was just a couple of times we didn’t capitalize on some situations and there was some weird points in there,” Allen head coach Kelley Gregoriew said. “When it comes to games like this, if you’re going to get beat, they are going to have to beat you, I don’t like to just hand stuff over and I think Sachse had to work for the win.”
Leah Reeves and Emma Vu combined for 27 assists, Detwiler and Thomas each had five kills and Maya Joseph added four for the Eagles, who finish the season with a 22-13 record.
Claire Romo did a great job running the Sachse offense with 32 assists. Alicia Hearn recorded 11 kills and four blocks, Grant had eight kills and Brown added five kills and four blocks.
The Mustangs hit the ground running in the opening game. Hearn had three early kills and a block to help them open a 8-5 lead.
Allen hung around behind three early kills from Wendland to make it 13-11, but Sascha Torres had an ace as part of a five-point service run and Rhoden, Hearn and Jhayla Bolden all had kills as Sachse closed the set on a 12-4 run and a 25-15 victory.
Hearn again got the Mustangs off to a quick start in Game 2, but Allen stayed close with Wendland, Detwiler and Symone Mitchell, as the teams were tied five times in the early going.
Sachse never trailed in the set and was able to push out to a 22-17 lead after back-to-back kills from Rhoden and Brown. The Eagles crept back to within 23-22 on a kill by Wendland, but a smash from Hearn and an error allowed the Mustangs to take a 25-22 win.
After falling in the bi-district round to McKinney a year ago, Sachse is back in the area finals for the sixth time in the last seven seasons.
“Last year hurt bad, but we didn’t talk about last year very much,” Jones said. “This team is so great, they are all really good girls, it is a true team and they love and support each other and I think that goes a long way when things get tough.”
It was a disappointing end for Allen, but there are plenty of reasons for optimism in the future. A year after going 0-12 in district play, the Eagles returned to the playoffs and they return every contributor next season.
“We always take this as a learning experience, as a growing experience, for this entire group this is their first playoff experience,” Gregoriew said. “We’re predominantly juniors and sophomores, so we’re not going anywhere and they’re only going to get better and stronger and learn from it. I’m proud of them.”
Up next for Sachse is Rockwall-Heath, a team they defeated in five games in the season opener, which went 18-16 in the deciding set.
The Mustangs know the road is not going to get any easier, but they feel their best volleyball is still ahead of them.
“I do think we can (make a run), I think this region is tough and I think people are going to have to play their best ball every night to be successful,” Jones said. “Whoever wins is going to have to play their best because there is nothing given away, this is the playoffs. We did a lot of good things tonight and we’ll build on that and look to be even better on Friday.”