With The Colony volleyball team locked in a battle with Prosper Rock Hill and Wylie East for the last two playoff spots in District 10-5A, Lady Cougars head coach Rachel Buckley stressed the importance of Tuesday’s home match against the Lady Raiders.
A win for The Colony would not only allow the Lady Cougars to sit all alone in third place in the 10-5A standings, but also complete a season sweep of East.
Fast-forward to Tuesday night inside Tommy Thomas Gymnasium, and the Lady Cougars came out swinging, using an aggressive pace on offense to take an early 6-2 lead. But then came some controversy. The head referee proceeded to call five violations for a double on The Colony over the span of the next 17 points.
The Lady Cougars initially battled through those calls, but the Lady Raiders pulled away at the end of the first set, and coupled with a stingy defense, cruised to a 3-0 victory (25-22, 25-18, 25-17) over The Colony. The Colony dropped to 22-11 overall, 5-5 district. East improved to 13-13, 6-4 and now occupies third place in the district standings.
Playing in front of their home crowd, The Colony had all of the momentum in the early going.
Lady Cougar junior setter Sophia Smith had The Colony offense clicking. Great digs by the defense of the Lady Cougars led to quick transition for Smith and company. Senior middle blocker Lily Quinones and junior Sophie Gray teamed up for a block that led to a kill by sophomore outside hitter Josie Bishop for a 4-1 lead.
That lead grew to 11-7 after Bishop swatted a kill down the left line, forcing Wylie East head coach Lisa Curry to call a timeout.
Bishop caught fire with seven kills in the first set, and for the match, finished with 14 kills.
“We came out swinging, and that is all that I can ask of them,” Buckley said. “They hit over .200 as a team. They were scrappy. I’m not going to take anything away from Wylie East. They’re a good defensive team. They have a good block and are scrappy on defense. We just couldn’t find their holes.”
Then came the violations for a double – and they added up. The two teams combined for 11 double violations on the evening, seven by The Colony and four by East. Five of the infractions occurred in the first set.
“I personally believe that officials should be there to call the game,” Buckley said. “If you leave a match and you notice officials, I think that is where they overstep their boundaries. I never blame a loss on that, but I think that they definitely influenced this game and I think that is disappointing in such a big game like this.
“I’m not blaming the loss on this. We had several moments where we should have taken care of business, but they definitely influenced the momentum, and I don’t agree with that.”
Infractions and all, the Lady Cougars had their chances. Miranda Garcia buried a kill to tie the score of the first set at 21. But East’s offense started to click. The Lady Raiders notched two kills and also got a service ace as part of a 4-1 run to end the first set.
East proceeded to clamp down on The Colony offense over the next two sets and never allowed the Lady Cougars to string together a big run. Quinones did her best to keep her team within striking distance in the second set, notching two kills and two blocks late in the second set. But the Lady Raiders had already built a six-point lead – an advantage they never gave up.
The loss comes four days after The Colony rebounded from a slow start to defeat Rock Hill 3-1 (20-25, 25-18, 25-20, 25-16) on Oct. 8.
“I love that they came back and came back with fire and didn’t stop,” Buckley said. “They took a command to the gym. It was confidence and it was conviction, and that is what we have been talking about. It looked like we played with conviction on Friday.”