When the stakes and the pressure were high, the Allen volleyball team was at it’s best Tuesday night in their district 9-6A matchup with McKinney.
As a result, Allen won pivotal points in multiple sets to win the first set in a tiebreaker and squeeze out the second set by two on their way to sweeping McKinney (27-25, 25-23,25-20). With the win, Allen improves to 2-0 in district play, while McKinney falls to 0-2.
After struggling all last season, starting 2-0 in district and winning a match where every point is a grind is a big step in the right direction for the maturing Lady Eagles squad.
“We practice for those pivotal points, we prepare for those pivotal points by creating situations where we have to stay calm which helped us deal with tough situations very well tonight,” Kelley Gregoriew, Allen head coach said. “Tonight, we got some big blocks in one set and got a big ace in a pivotal moment of another set and just took advantage of what they gave us. Last year, we were learning and young and this year we are maturing and controlling situations which is helping us win matches like this.”
Allen came out the gates rolling in first set building an 15-7 lead only to watch a gritty McKinney team scratch and claw back into the set to force a tie breaker. In the tie breaker, Allen caught a break due to a crucial McKinney serving error and got a big kill from junior Maya Joseph to close out the set. When the stakes rose again in set two, Allen was at its best yet again as the Lady Eagles won four consecutive points when the set was tied after tying things up at 12-12.
In their first opportunity to close out the set, Allen sophomore Leah Reeves perfectly setup junior Ella Fannin for a pivotal kill to take full control of the match and never look back.
“Tonight, we wanted to start off our district season the right way and it feels really good to have big support from everyone especially from our student section which pushed us to victory.” Reeves said. “Since it was so close and very intense on both sides it made getting that final point in the second set a big deal because that gave us the boost, we needed to win that last set. Our confidence is really high and with all the support we are getting I feel we are on the right path this season.”
On other side of the net, all McKinney could ponder is what could have been as the Lionettes squandered opportunities to win the first and second set due making crucial serving and hitting errors. Now with consecutive losses to Prosper and Allen on their district resume, McKinney is forced to regroup to find ways to get on track in district play.
“We got to find people to step up when the game is tough and tight and mental toughness enters into close sets and matches,” said Erinn Higginbotham, McKinney head coach. “It’s crucial that we find people who want the ball when game is on the line who are not passive. The beauty of this district is on any given night anyone can fall, and we just got to make sure we are taking care of the team before we are taking care of ourselves individually.”