Trying something new: West works on playoff skills in sweep of McKinney
Plano West turned its attention to the playoffs Tuesday night in a sweep of McKinney (25-20, 25-19, 25-21) that saw the Lady Wolves introduce some new strategies geared toward refining their play before do-or-die contests arrive.
“We’re trying to do a couple of new things before we head into the playoffs, as far as trying to speed up our offense a little bit,” said Brittany Bridge, West head volleyball coach. “We had a few awkward moments, because we’re trying to do some new stuff at the end of district.
“We were just trying to run various plays on defensive plays and not just free balls that we normally wouldn’t do. So, it’s trying to train your setters and your hitters to be in different spots and be ready to hit different things, when normally they’re making their own call and playing kind of a transition ball instead of running a set play.”
McKinney managed to keep pace in the early going and remained tied with West as late as 17-17 in the first set before the Lady Wolves rattled off seven-unanswered points to take control. That set the tone for the remainder of the match, as West went through a similar adjustment period in each subsequent set before eventually pulling away.
The Lady Wolves jumped to an early lead in the second set on consecutive kills from senior Julia DeVinney but remained tied with McKinney as late as 7-7 in the before a 7-1 rally built on strong serve-receive play and aces from junior Morgan MacGilvary and senior Abigail Curry pushed them ahead for good. The Lady Wolves maintained at least a four-point advantage the remainder of the set.
The match-winning kill was provided by senior Brooke Coleman, who had a strong all-around performance with 11 kills, 10 digs and 21 assists. MacGilvary had 10 kills on the match, while DeVinney provided nine kills in expanded playing time.
“Julia hasn’t been playing for a while, so she really stepped up and played well,” Bridge said. “It’s good to see some new players get in there, and hopefully when we get in the playoffs, we’ll have more than one hitter that is firing on all cylinders.”
McKinney came out firing in the third and final set and jumped to a 5-1 lead on a trio of aces from Anna Robertson, but the Lady Wolves chipped away at their deficit thanks to a strong defensive performance from senior libero Shane Peters – who had 28 digs on the night – before pulling ahead, 12-11, on a kill from MacGilvary.
West couldn’t get much separation from McKinney though, and the Lionettes kept within two points or fewer of the lead until a four-point run from the Lady Wolves pushed them ahead 21-15 and cruising toward the sweep, which was finalized on a kill from Coleman.
It was too little too late for the Lady Wolves though, as playing their worst set to close the match bought them a few trips running across the court before huddling up for a post-game talk and heading for the bus.
“In the last game, I told them I wanted the score to be 25-16 and it was 25-21, so they were running for not accomplishing the goal I set forth,” Bridge said.
With the win, West moved to 5-3 in district. The Lady Wolves are currently in third place in 10-5A with two games to play and have a two-match cushion over Plano East and Allen, which are tied for fourth at 3-5.
McKinney remained winless in district, 0-8, with the loss.