After a strong showing and a bronze finish at the Northwest ISD Tournament last weekend, the Prosper Lady Eagles had no trouble in their season home-opener against Richardson. Richardson’s team, also dubbed as the Lady Eagles, is coming off of losses against Sachse and Midlothian, who Prosper recently defeated in the NISD tournament. Despite a shaky first set, state-ranked Prosper managed to gather their bearing in sets two and three to defeat Richardson in the first home match of the year.


“The girls played well — once we limited our own unforced errors, we dominated the match,” head coach Erin Kauffman said. “I thought we served aggressive and everyone got some playing time.”


Senior Taryn Weber kicked off the match with what looked like would be a dominating performance by Prosper. Her two back-to-back aces gave the entire team momentum. They jumped out to a quick 11-3 lead as senior blocker Hope Gramly’s blocking was unmatched in the opening points. Richardson tried to settle into the game, but several errors forced them to battle back from an 8-point deficit. Prosper had some unforced errors of their own, however, allowing Richardson to slip back into competition. Outsider hitters Haley Killinger and Ciera Hecht pushed Prosper back out on top, and setter Madi Whitmire controlled the tempo of the game with a few of her second-ball tips over to catch the Richardson defense off-guard. Gramly was key in the first-set victory as her and Hecht were too solid for Richardson to beat. The blocking duo would end the first set with a block on the left-side, taking set one with a score of 25-17.


That was the closest Richardson would come to beating the Lady Eagles. They earned another early 4-point lead as Richardson’s back line caused two errors, and a Gramly kill couldn’t be returned. Killinger added two kills and a long tip into the back-left corner to push the lead to 6, and It was all Prosper from there. Kauffman utilized her bench heavily in the game, and multiple players came off the bench and made a big impact. Freshman Samantha Jacobs and junior Ryann Cobb had several big kills, and junior Taylor Burrell slammed down a big overset in her first touch of the game to force a Richardson timeout. Burrell also had the set-winning point to end set two 25-8.


Richardson was a little more effective in the third and final set, but it was Prosper again who stole the lead. Again, Gramly was a force to be reckoned with, playing both strong and smart at the net. Killinger’s powerful jump-serve caused problems for the Richardson backline for the entire set, and her kills from the outside were even more dangerous. Richardson did bounce back for a 3-0 run, but the Lady Eagles of Prosper adjusted accordingly. In perfect fashion, Killinger ended the match with an ace, bringing the set’s final score to 25-17.


Key players in the match included setter Madi Whitmire, who had 5 aces, 26 assists, and 7 digs, and senior Haley Killinger with 4 aces and 13 kills. Junior Ciera Hecht, who is returning to the court after an injury early in the season had her sidelined, also had quite the performance in the match — with 3 aces, 7 kills and 12 digs, and she was unstoppable all across the court. Senior Hope Gramly came alive during the match with several big kills that kept the momentum with the home team. Defensively, Kayla Martin’s leadership in the back row earned her 7 digs, and other players, including Morgan Monroe and Macy Walterscheid, also contributed defensive plays to keep the Lady Eagles solid across the board.


Kauffman emphasized that a key to the victory was her depth on the bench. Each player who came onto the court made an impact on the score, and she said it’s just fun to watch her girls play.


“All of the girls stepped up and its fun playing teams where everyone is into it and getting some court time,” Kauffman said. “It’s fun to watch the starters get a chance to cheer on the girls that are always cheering for them.”


The Lady Eagles will hit the road for the final tournament of the year at Plano West High School. For bracket play and more information, please visit http://planowestvolleyball.com/.