MCKINNEY — After falling to Southlake Carroll on Friday, Oct. 27 in a play-off warm-up match, the Prosper Lady Eagles volleyball team opened the post-season on Tuesday, Oct. 31 with a win over Frisco Independence.
The Lady Knights finished their season with a 25-13 record overall. They were the fourth seed in District 13-5A with a record of 7-7. Despite the Lady Eagles registering their their sixth loss of the year the match before, the team was prepared to bounce back.
With starters Macy Walterschied, Kayla Martin (libero), Chloe Hancock, Haley Killinger, Ciera Hecht, Hope Gramly and Madi Whitmire out on the court, the team set to battle against a tough Independence roster. After conceding the first point, Prosper retaliated with a huge kill from Gramly out of the middle. Killinger got on the board with a slam down the line and immediately followed it up with a block. Whitmire slipped a sneaky second ball over the net, but the Lady Knights were resilient. Back to back possessions kept the opening set close, especially as some missed serves proved to be costly for Prosper. The team was forced to take a timeout with Independence leading 11-13.
“When you’re ranked number two in the state, teams play you and know they have nothing to lose,” head coach Erin Kauffman. “Our serving was not very good, and we didn’t take advantage of their weak ball control.”
Despite some shaky moments, Prosper was able to recover as Martin led the way defensively. Anchoring the back line, she was instrumental at the service line to give the Lady Eagles a two-point cushion in the closing points of the set. Finally finding an offensive rhythm, they pushed their lead out even further. A comeback run by the Lady Knights gave the team some adversity, but Prosper took a 1-0 lead as they captured the first 25-21.
“Last year was my first year on varsity so having a year under my belt really helps,” Martine said. “Being the libero, I think it’s important to lead the defense and step up in that position.”
An early timeout gave both teams a chance to reset after a wild start to set two. Prosper held the lead in the opening points, but errors continued to plague the team. The Lady Knights capitalized, and ramped up their defense to shut down the strong Prosper attack. Just one point separated the team for the majority of the set.
Finding some momentum, the Lady Eagles went on a five-point run to extend their lead 13-9. Killinger ended the longest rally of the match after sending a deep tip into the back corner. Independence didn’t back down, however, and cut the lead back to one, but a powerful kill out of the middle by Killinger returned the ball back to Prosper. Weber was a silent killer from the right side, pushing the Lady Eagle lead back to five with one of her eight kills on the night. A costly hitting mistake for the Lady Knights gave Prosper the set-winning point at 25-19, increasing the match’s lead to 2-0.
Missed serves continued to be a dominating factor for the Lady Eagles in the third. Although Prosper had a 5-1 lead early in the set, the Lady Knights worked their way back in the match due to three consecutive errors at the line. Weber’s big swing carried over from the second, forcing Independence to take a timeout at 10-6. The senior capitalized on another powerful kill down the line to keep the lead, but again the Lady Knights stayed in close range. The opponents managed to come within two, but with the game on the line, the powerful Prosper offense exploded. A Gramly slide kill eventually forced the final Independence timeout, and with the momentum on the home side, the Lady Eagles stayed on top and battled through the final set, capturing the Bi-District Championship with a final score of 25-17.
Senior Haley Killinger finished the night with 13 kills and 3 blocks, and Weber contributed eight kills in the win. Setter Madi Whitmire had 40 assists, and Kayla Martin rounded out the team with 17 digs.
Though the match wasn’t pretty, Kauffman said there is a lot to look forward to in the next match.
“We know what we have to work on… we didn’t play well and still swept them, so that says a lot about our team and our perseverance,” she said.
Next, the Lady Eagles will face off with another Dallas powerhouse, Highland Park, for the Area Championship. The game will take place on Thursday, Nov. 2 at Coppell High School at 7 p.m.