PROSPER — The Prosper volleyball team dominated in another district match on Tuesday, Sept. 26. The Lady Eagles defeated second-place McKinney North in three sets to remain undefeated in district play.
Unlike their normal home-game advantages where the Prosper fan base reigns, the Lady Eagles found themselves surrounded by rowdy McKinney North fans. The Lady Bulldogs were also a very high-energy team, which added to the intensity of the match. But middle blocker Chloe Hancock said the added noise didn’t phase them while on the court.
“Honestly, it makes us more intense and fires us up, too,” the senior said. “It’s just fun to have a loud crowd, no matter if they’re rooting against you or for you.”
Nonetheless, Coach Erin Kauffman sent out her usual starting six of Ciera Hecht, Haley Killinger, Madi Whitmire, Kayla Martin, Taryn Webb and Hope Gramly to handle set one.
McKinney North served first, but Prosper immediately took control of the match after a long first rally. Shortly after, Gramly got her night started early at the net with a big slide kill that slammed into the middle of the court. North’s front row tried to prevent Prosper’s offense from heating up, but they couldn’t keep anything in bounds. Led by Hecht’s four aces, the Lady Eagles jumped out to an 11-1 lead. The junior finally missed a serve long for North’s second point of the match, but they would give the ball right back to the Lady Eagles after a missed serve of their own. The Lady Bulldog’s block remained persistent in keeping the outside hitters’ kills from touching the ground, but still couldn’t get the ball to drop in their favor. They tried to make a push for points late in the set as their libero came up big both at the serving line and in the back row. The North block also came alive as a Prosper kill ricocheted off the block and dropped in the far back of the court, but the Lady Eagles would end the match at 25-14 as Weber smartly placed a right-side kill down the line.
Senior Macy Walterscheid sent over the first serve to start set number two, but it was North who found the floor first with big swing from their middle blocker. Prosper quickly retaliated as Gramly responded with her slide kill followed by a long tip pushed to back court by Killinger. The two teams kept the set much closer in the opening minutes, and after a few errors for the home team, the visiting Lady Bulldogs found themselves ahead for the first time in the match. The lead was short-lived, however, as Hecht came to the rescues with a back-row kill to re-tie the match. Freshman Sami Jacobs got her first touch of the game with a right-side kill to regain the lead followed by another smartly-placed hit across the court to push the lead to two. As the match progressed, Prosper capitalized on North’s defensive errors, including a big overpass slammed down by Gramly, as they advanced their lead out to seven. North refused to back down, however, as they continued chipping away at the score. In the longest rally of the match, North put a ball just out of reach for the Lady Eagles to give them some hope in the set. Prosper responded with a series of strong defensive plays, including two big blocks from Chloe Hancock, who ended the set 25-12.
The Lady Eagles wasted no time in closing out set number 3. After a two hitting errors by North, Prosper’s explosive offense took over. Led by junior Morgan Monroe at the service line, North’s coach was forced to take another timeout at 6-1 after another unstoppable Gramly’s slide-kill. Following the timeout, both teams scrambled in a very chaotic rally, but Monroe managed to chase down a shanked pass to keep the ball in play. The Lady Bulldogs tried to return, but Killinger ended the long rally with a kill in the back corner. North took their second timeout at 13-2, but errors continued to plague their offense. Hancock was incredibly dominant at the net as she added two more blocks to her count. North just couldn’t muster up an attack long enough to hold off the Lady Eagles. Monroe’s serving came to an end when the Lady Bulldogs finally found an opening on the slide, but Killinger retaliated with a smack out of the middle followed by a slight roll shot on the left. Kauffman’s team needed just three rotations to take down the Lady Bulldogs in the third, as Hancock slammed home the final kill of the match at 25-5.
Since last season, Kauffman said that the defense has improved tremendously. Chloe Hancock validated that, as she ended the night with a total of four blocks, while Martin, Hecht and Killinger combined for 34 total digs.
“We usually do a lot of staying conditioned, getting to our spots every time and not being lazy,” Hancock said about their improved defense.
With district play reaching the halfway point, Kauffman said that it’s important for her girls to focus on getting better each game, while still maintaining the fundamentals of volleyball.
“We want to keep getting better,” Kauffman said. “If we’re the same team in playoffs that we were at the beginning of the year, teams are going to scout us and know what we’re doing.”
The Lady Eagles will take on Newman Smith at Newman Smith High School on Friday, Oct. 6.