PLANO – Coppell head volleyball coach Libby Pacheco knew that Tuesday’s District 6-6A match against Plano wasn’t going to be a cakewalk, by any means.

Pacheco’s Cowgirls cruised to a 3-0 victory (25-13, 25-16, 25-21) the first time they played the Lady Wildcats this season on Sept. 24. But Plano has been a tough out over the last few weeks, having taken Plano West to five sets on two separate occasions and pulling out a five-set road win at Hebron on Oct. 8.

The Lady Wildcats continued their strong play of late on Tuesday by defeating the Cowgirls in four sets (25-14, 18-25, 25-13, 25-22) at Plano Senior High Activity Center.

“They had played everybody scrappy until the last ball,” Pacheco said. “We knew that it wasn’t going to be as easy as last time.”

And it was a crucial win for the Lady Wildcats.

A loss would have all but eliminated Plano from the playoff hunt. But with the victory, the Lady Wildcats (20-14 overall, 5-7 6-6A) are tied with Coppell (25-10, 5-7) for fifth place in District 6-6A and trail fourth-place Hebron (22-16, 6-6) by one game with two matches remaining in the regular season for each team.

“I’m glad that we fought it out tonight,” said Lindsey Petzold, Plano head coach. “It was super close there and we showed that we have a lot of fight and a lot of heart. I’m just glad that we didn’t have to go five sets.”

Hebron has the toughest path to the playoffs as Marcus (27-7, 10-2) and Flower Mound (34-4, 11-1) remain on the Lady Hawks’ schedule. Coppell travels to last-place Lewisville (12-25, 0-12) on Friday and will host Plano West (26-7, 10-2) on Oct. 26 to conclude the regular season. Plano, meanwhile, visits Plano East (15-16-1, 1-11) on Friday and is at Marcus next Tuesday.

Plano received another big night from senior outside hitters Katie Kemp and Brooke McHale. Kemp took charge in the early going while McHale helped to polish off the victory late in the fourth set. Kemp logged 15 kills, three service aces and 12 digs. McHale finished with 14 kills, three aces and 15 digs.

The Lady Wildcats worked through three missed serves in the first 11 points of the match before Kemp came alive to help Plano to grab the momentum.

With the Lady Wildcats clinging to an 11-9 lead in the first set, Kemp buried a kill on the next point and then proceeded to get on a roll behind the service line. Utilizing a jump serve to her advantage, Kemp spotted three aces over the next four points to increase Plano’s lead to 16-9.

Plano also received a tremendous defensive effort from senior libero Naylani Feliciano, who finished with a match-high 35 digs.

It was more of the same to begin the second set as Coppell appeared to be in danger of falling behind two sets to none. But in search of a spark, the Cowgirls received a big boost from junior outside hitter Skye LaMendola. LaMendola notched three kills over a span of six points to rally Coppell after it had fallen behind by four points. She finished the night with 10 kills.

“We had to make some adjustments about where we were transitioning her off,” Pacheco said. “She wasn’t used to getting the balls that she was used to getting, so she had to make that adjustment and she was playing really solid for us in the third and fourth sets.”

Senior libero Beca Centeno spotted an ace to give the Cowgirls their first lead of the second set and sophomore left-side hitter Daki Kahungu followed with a pair of kills to give Coppell a 19-16 lead.

Junior Taylor Young ran Coppell’s offense, dishing out 29 assists on the evening. Hendricks added nine kills, two blocks and three digs.

But one quality of her team that pleased Petzold the most Tuesday night was their composure. She said that her Lady Wildcats didn’t get rattled after the Cowgirls won the second set. And quite frankly, she knew that her team would respond in resounding fashion. That, Plano did.

Plano dominated the third set from start to finish and then worked through some adversity in the fourth set.

Coppell played with a lot of desperation. The Cowgirls received solid defensive play at the net and built an 18-14 lead after a Lady Wildcat hit the ball into the net.

McHale made sure that the match didn’t need a fifth set. She recorded two kills and a service ace during the final five points of the set to clinch a four-set victory for the Lady Wildcats.

“I have a lot of seniors on my team,” Petzold said. “My two outsides, my libero have really good heads on them. It seems like they got better and better and did a good job of focusing on point by point and not letting Coppell’s momentum affect us.”

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