The Plano West volleyball team, ranked No. 8 in this week’s Texas Girls Coaches Association poll, will enter the postseason on an eight-game winning streak after a Tuesday sweep of District 9-6A No. 4 seed Allen in the teams’ regular-season finale.
With the win, the Lady Wolves earned a share of the 9-6A title with fellow 11-1 finisher and TGCA No. 11 Prosper, and a coin flip determined that West will enter the postseason as the No. 2 seed behind No. 1 Prosper. The position will see the Lady Wolves take on Rowlett in a bi-district match at 7 p.m. Monday at Plano Senior.
“It was a good win for us and a good regular season, but from day one they’ve kind of said they didn’t really care where they finished in district and that it was all about the playoffs,” said Justin Waters, West head coach. “So that’s kind of how we’re viewing the whole shared district title. … At this point, with the mentality of the girls, it’s strictly focused on playoffs.”
Allen put up a brief fight in the first set of Tuesday’s matchup, forcing West to hang on for a 28-26 set win. The Lady Wolves took control from there, however, stringing together set wins by final counts of 25-11 and 25-19 to round out the sweep.
Though the end result was what Waters and his athletes expected entering the night, he said the slow start was emblematic of some stumbles his talented group has faced throughout the season.
“The first set was definitely frustrating,” he said. “It was kind of like our regular season in a nutshell. We came in a little overconfident. … We were already sitting at the No. 2 seed with the result of the coin flip, so I didn’t expect my girls to be too motivated to play hard tonight. But that kind of woke them up in the first set, and they were able to bounce back.”
Now, with the race to state on the horizon, Waters said he has to strike a balance between allowing his confident team to be itself and keeping his players from getting too far ahead of themselves.
“That’s going to be the challenge going into it,” he said. “We’re already looking ahead to the fourth round when we’ll face The Woodlands. They promised that I would see a different team when the playoffs started. … At the same time, we’re going to try not to take anyone lightly. We’re going to try and beat them by as much as possible to get momentum going into that fourth round.”
On the opposite sideline, despite the lopsided loss, Allen head coach Kelley Gregoriew said there were plenty of positives to be found.
In particular, Gregoriew said the Lady Eagles finishing 9-6A play with three consecutive postseason teams in McKinney Boyd, Prosper and West will serve them well as they prep for District 10-6A champion Sachse.
“We have good feelings, period. Playing in a district that’s this tough, we’re hoping by finishing with three really tough opponents and getting us to play at that higher level, then we’ll be good-to-go when we cross over,” she said. “That district over there isn’t as demanding.”
Overall, Allen is a confident group, Gregoriew said, and one that collectively feels it’s seen some of the best the state has to offer even in the minutia of its conference contests.
“West had a couple servers tonight that we struggled with. … When we were running (our offense), it’s how we were scoring,” she said. “Our first opponent doesn’t have any servers like that, so if we can stay consistent with that (and with our defense – our block usually does a good job, and I don’t think they’re going to have anybody like (West senior hitter Iman Ndiaye) that’s going to bang over the top.”
Plano West was led by senior Jill Pressly Tuesday, as the DePaul commit recorded 19 kills. Junior Ashley Le also had a big night, tallying 14 assists and six aces.
For Allen, junior Maddie Wendland totaled seven kills. Sophomore Emily Canaan led the way in digs with 15, while Wendland chipped in 13.
Robinson gets final showing for Plano Senior
Though Plano Senior missed out on the postseason, the Lady Wildcats did get to honor one of their key seniors in Tuesday’s sweep at the hands of Prosper.
Senior Sophie Robinson, who missed the entire season except for Tuesday night with an injury, was able to serve in the game and bid farewell to her Plano career.
“It was great. She has just been the most amazing teammate and the most amazing mentor to these kids. … To be able to finish off on the court where she began – it was heartwarming,” said Kaylin Kelley, Plano interim head coach. “Everyone played so hard for those (seniors).”
Though the results didn’t come this season, Kelley said she feels a solid foundation was put in place for the future of the Lady Wildcats.
“We came into knowing it was going to be a growth year and (that we would have to) find our niche as this group as opposed to the groups that have come through in the past,” she said. “Being a growing year, those girls did exactly that. … With that in mind, that’s our goal for the future – to continue that growth.”
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