SACHSE VS PROSPER VOLLEYBALL

Prosper’s Taylor Youtsey (No. 16) and Bailey Birmingham (No. 7) go up for the block against Sachse’s Alicia Hearn during the Eagles 25-17, 24-26, 25-17, 23-25, 17-15 victory over the Mustangs on Friday in a Class 6A Region II quarterfinal match at Plano Senior High School.

PLANO—Sachse and Prosper engaged in a two-and-a-half-hour thriller on Tuesday more befitting of being played in Huntsville this weekend or on the state stage at the Curtis Culwell Center next week.

The two state-ranked foes traded huge runs and momentum swings in front of a boisterous crowd and it fittingly came down to a fifth set.

The Mustangs had the Eagles on the ropes, leading by five on two occasions and reaching match point.

But Prosper dug deep, scoring the final three points, the last of which came courtesy of a kill from Bailey Birmingham as they kept their state championship dreams alive with a 25-17, 24-26, 25-17, 23-25, 17-15 victory in a Class 6A Region II quarterfinal playoff match at Plano Senior High School.

The Eagles (26-8) move on to the regional tournament where they will meet either Klein, a four-set winner over Round Rock Westwood, in the semifinals at 7 p.m. Friday at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville.

The Mustangs finish with a 43-8 record with the road painfully ending one step short of their first trip to the regional tournament since 2010.

“Yes (expected it to come down to the wire). I know how inconsistent we are and every time we scouted Sachse, I never really saw holes in their game,” Prosper head coach Erin Kauffman said. “One thing I did notice about Sachse is they ride on momentum …they live and die on their athleticism and they get real hyped for that, so our big goal was to try to keep the momentum as much as possible. We just need to prepare them, as coaches, to show up, two more games to make it to the state tournament, so I’m not asking for a whole another season of consistency, I just need two more matches of consistency.”

The fifth set served as a microcosm of the night. Two early kills by Birmingham staked Prosper to a 3-0 lead.

The Mustangs came right back.

Sachse got on the board on a smash from Shaliyah Rhoden to set up a five-point service run from Chloe Saucedo that include two kills from Alicia Hearn and another by Mikaela Brown to give them a 6-3 lead.

Hearn’s fourth kill of the set gave the Mustangs a 12-7 advantage, but Prosper answered led by Samantha Jacobs, who had four kills as part of a 7-1 run that gave them match point at 14-13.

Sachse responded with a kill from Rhoden and an ace from Claire Romo to give themselves a chance to close it out, but the Eagles reeled off the final three points behind Jacobs, Nikki Steinheiser and the final kill from Birmingham to spark the celebration.

“Against Allen in district, we were down 19-11 and came back to win that match. In the state finals in 2017, we only have a few players from that team still, but we were down 12-9 in the fifth game and we came back to win, that so it’s been possible. On the flip side … a couple of years ago we were up 23-11 to Wakeland and lost that set, so anything can happen,” Kauffman said. “Sachse is good, they are underrated, I think they deserve a lot of credit. Shout out to coach (Rikki) Jones, she’s done a really good job with that team.”

Jacobs paced the Eagles with 16 kills, followed by Birmingham with 13, Steinheiser with 12 and Shaylee Shore with nine. Setter Mackenzie Jefferson had 38 assists.

Hearn had a match-high 18 kills for the Mustangs, while Claire Romo dealt out 45 assists. Rhoden recorded 16 kills and a pair of blocks, Bolden had six kills and Mikaela Brown, Kayla Grant and Liz Woods each added five.

The opening set was close through the early stages. Sachse used a five-point spurt that included kills from Rhoden, Bolden and Hearn and an ace from Chloe Saucedo to take a 13-11 lead.

Prosper answered in a big way, getting back on serve with a smash from Birmingham. Shore then served seven straight points, including a pair of aces and points from Steinheiser and Birmingham to take a 19-13 lead and they were able to go on to the 25-17 win.

The Eagles pushed out to a 12-8 advantage in Game 2, but this time the Mustangs were able to keep them in their sights. After getting back to within one on seven occasions, Sachse finally drew even at 20-20 after an ace from Zoria Heard.

Prosper did have game point at 24-23, but the Mustangs showed their resiliency, taking advantage of a service error and getting a kill from Grant and a block from Rhoden for a 26-24 win to even the match at a set apiece.

Prosper came back with its best game start-to-finish in Game 3. Three kills from Shore helped them to a 13-7 lead and it never dipped below three the rest of the way as they went on to the 25-17 victory

With its season on the line in Game 4, Sachse played like it. Tied 6-6, the Mustangs went on a 9-2 run that featured three kills from Rhoden, two aces from Bolden and points from Hearn, Romo and Macy Taylor to take a 15-8 lead.

Sachse built the advantage to 20-12 after a quick-set by Romo, but Prosper refused to go away quietly.

Steinheiser had a pair of kills and Taylor Youtsey added another to spark a 11-3 run, tying it at 23-23 on a block by Kendall Hewitt.

But the match seemed destined to go the distance and the Mustangs made sure it did, as Woods put down a kill and Romo followed with an ace for the 25-23 win to set the stage for the game-five dramatics.

Prosper now turns its attention to Huntsville, where two more hurdles stand in their way of the state tournament, including a potential third meeting with 9-6A rival Plano West.

“Hopefully they are excited to play more,” Kauffman said. “I have 12 juniors and three seniors and I think five of my juniors play club together, they are the best of friends and they want to keep playing. I’ve seen situations where girls are just ready for the season to be over and these girls aren’t ready for the season to be over and they play like it.”

For continued coverage on the local sports scene, follow Devin Hasson on Twitter: @DevinHasson

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