Prosper junior Sydney Thornton fires the ball past the Marcus defense for a kill during Tuesday’s Class 6A bi-district playoff at The Colony. Thornton tallied four kills in a 3-1 victory for Prosper against Marcus.
THE COLONY – Coming into Tuesday’s match, Prosper interim head volleyball coach Taylor Robinson felt that Marcus was much better than its 20-22 record.
And it showed.
Every time it appeared that the Lady Eagles were going to assume control, the Lady Marauders always had a response. Marcus rallied from a 21-18 deficit in the third set to keep its season on life support and force a fourth set with a kill from sophomore outside hitter Halle Jameson.
For as much grit as Marcus showed, Prosper strung together a good run behind the service line to commence the fourth set. The Lady Eagles rode the momentum of the fast start and also received nine kills from senior Ella Chaney in that game to fend off a pesky Lady Marauder squad to earn a 25-17, 26-24, 23-25, 25-21 victory in a Class 6A bi-district playoff at The Colony.
“Marcus is a quality volleyball team,” Robinson said. “Every round in the playoffs is going to be a challenge no matter who you played. No one is going to roll over and give it to you. They gave us a good test. Thankfully, we were able to come out with a win.”
Prosper (36-7) will face Lake Highlands in the area round later this week at a time and location to be determined. The Wildcats defeated Arlington in four sets on Tuesday.
Prosper used strong serving to start the match well. Sophomore Sophie Bridges spotted back-to-back aces to get the Lady Eagles off to a 4-1 lead in the first set, and despite some resistance by the Lady Marauders, Prosper never trailed in the first set.
Lady Eagle setters Callie Kieffer and Hannah Beauford distributed the ball well in the first set, with five different Prosper players having at least one kill over that span of play, four by junior Ayden Ames. Kieffer dished out 31 assists on the night.
But Marcus was a pesky bunch. The Lady Marauders appeared to be down for the count after the Lady Eagles took a 22-15 lead in the second set on an ace by sophomore Brooklyn Bowman. But Marcus mounted a furious rally, tying the score at 24-24 on a kill by senior Maggie Cox.
Cox and senior Akunna Cos-Okpalla provided a tremendous one-two offensive punch for the Lady Marauders, with Cox recording 13 kills and Cos-Okpalla notching a team-high 14 kills. Junior Isabel Rueda had 14 digs to pace Marcus’ defensive efforts.
“We had a lot of grit tonight,” said Lindsey Petzold, Marcus head coach. “We didn’t let mistakes get to us. We were really resilient. I’m proud of them for coming back and believing. We knew that we could do it. Obviously, Prosper is a very seasoned team, and I’m proud that we gave ourselves a shot.”
However, Prosper has a lot of players that aren’t afraid to step in big moments. One of those Lady Eagles is Beauford. Just a sophomore, Beauford notched a kill on each of the next two points, including a tip kill on the latter play, to give Prosper the second-set victory and a 2-0 advantage in the best-of-five match.
“With her club team, Hannah is used to playing on the big stage,” Robinson said. “She’s a very good impact player.”
The end of the third set had some wasn’t without some controversy.
Jameson rose in the air and swatted the ball for a kill for what appeared to be a two-point victory for Marcus. But following a discussion between two officials, they ruled there was a double fault and it remained a one-point lead for the Lady Marauders. On the next play, a kill by Jameson hit other side of the court, and it counted, giving Marcus a 25-23 lead.
Jameson’s kill capped off a 7-3 run to end the set for the Lady Marauders, who rallied from a 21-18 deficit.
Robinson told his Lady Eagles in the timeout between the third and fourth sets to make better decisions with the ball.
The Lady Eagles heeded Robinson’s words.
Chaney caught fire to begin the fourth set, recording three kills over the first six points to give Prosper a 5-1 lead. Chaney had 13 kills on the evening, as did Ames. Beauford registered 18 assists and 11 digs, in addition to 13 kills.
“She is a very crafty player,” Robinson said of Chaney. “She is hard to read. She is so smart. She’s got great volleyball IQ. When she knows where to go, she knows where to put the ball.”
Fly Eagles fly: See the best photos from Prosper's 4-set victory against Marcus