FRISCO - The Plano West volleyball team still hasn't dropped a set through three rounds of postseason action, though that streak appeared on the verge of breaking at several points Tuesday night at Frisco High School.
Instead, the Lady Wolves continued their perfect run to the Region II-6A tournament, battling back from 7-1 deficits in the second and third sets to polish off a sweep of a very game Rockwall squad (25-22, 25-19, 25-20).
West head coach Justin Waters originally labeled Rockwall's second-round sweep of District 9-6A foe McKinney Boyd an upset. However, after witnessing the program on both film and in live action Tuesday and seeing firsthand the impact of Rockwall senior Bomi Ogunlari, Waters had nothing but praise for the team's effort.
"I know their lineup changed a little bit with (Ogunlari) coming back. ... (She's) a game-changer, and that team came to play," he said. "So I don't really see it as an upset, anymore. After watching film of them against Boyd, I knew that we'd be struggling, for sure."
Though Rockwall was competitive throughout, cracking 20 points in two of its three set losses, West continued to play below expectations, a phenomenon that's plagued the talented Lady Wolves throughout the season.
Those slow starts and unforced errors will have to come to an end at the regional tournament, where a rematch with state power The Woodlands, which West knocked out of the postseason a year ago on its way to state, awaits.
"Even come Friday with The Woodlands, they're definitely out to get us, considering we knocked them out last year and they beat us in the preseason," Waters said. "It only gets harder from here."
The Woodlands will enter the matchup off a thrilling, five-set win over Austin Vandegrift that saw The Woodlands need a 15-13 win in the decisive frame to emerge victorious.
To come out with a repeat of 2018's result, Waters said his athletes will have to rise to the occasion, as they've promised their coach they would do all season long.
"All I can really do is trust them. They've been talking about this Friday match the entire year," he said. "They said I'd see a different team, so I've just got to take their word for it, really."
Tuesday, West held off several charges from a raucous Rockwall side in the first set, including having to shut the door after Rockwall went on a 4-0 run from down, 24-18, to nearly climb back into the frame.
In the sets that followed, a rowdy West student section had much to cheer about in the back half of each frame, as it saw its Lady Wolves erase 7-1 deficits in each. In set No. 2, West took its first lead, 16-15, on a kill from senior Jill Pressly and never looked back, finishing on a 10-3 run from 15-15.
West didn't wait as long in the third and final game, roaring back to take a 9-8 lead following the 7-1 Rockwall start and hanging on to round out another sweep.
Pressly again led West in kills, finishing with 19. Senior Iman Ndiaye followed with a dozen, and no other West athlete had more than five. Juniors Lindsey Zhang and Morgan Carter had 15 digs, each, while senior Sydney Yap and junior Ashley Le finished with 16 and 12 assists, respectively.
Sophomore Kaila Garnett played well off the bench, tallying a pair of kills and playing well at the net in limited action.
"That's how she plays in practice. She gets a little nervous in the games, because she doesn't want to make any mistakes or anything like that," Waters said. "I just had to get in her ear and in her head and tell her to swing the way she does in practice. ... I think she showed up, and, hopefully, she'll get that confidence if I need her in the future."
West and The Woodlands will duke it out at 5 p.m. Friday at Sam Houston State University's Johnson Coliseum, with the winner advancing to the Region II-6A final.
"(We have to) block. They run the fastest offense that we're going to see this year," Waters said. "We've got to have a disciplined block, we have to put it up there, and our defense has to play behind it."