MCKINNEY — For the first time since 2014, the Prosper volleyball team is advancing to the Regional Tournament in Richardson. After sweeping Highland Park on Thursday, Nov. 2, the Lady Eagles turned their attention to the Regional Quarterfinal match against Frisco Reedy on Tuesday, Nov. 7.
The Lady Lions entered the match 28-11 overall, and defeated Forney High to advance to the game against Prosper. Junior Stephanie Young was named the Player of the Match by MaxPreps, and the senior-heavy squad was prepared to square off with the number two team in the state.
With the match already carrying the weight of the program’s history, fans from both schools flooded the gym at McKinney Boyd High School, which helped set the stage for a tough competition.
As the match got underway, the score fluctuated as both teams tried to adjust to the gym’s low ceilings. Senior Haley Killinger kicked off the Prosper offense with three uncontested kills at the beginning of set one. But with two powerful offenses squaring off, the spotlight would be on Proper’s defense.
The Lady Lions held a two-point lead early as Prosper tried to settle into the match. Reedy pushed that lead out to four after three unanswered points, forcing Coach Kauffman to take a timeout. Hecht got the girls back on track with another left-side tool out of the timeout, but a tough Reedy attack kept the lead on their side. The Lady Eagles continued to chip away at the lead with Killinger leading the attack. Still behind two points, senior Taryn Weber stepped up and slammed home a huge kill on the right side. The intensity continued to build as both teams approached twenty points. With Reedy just six points away from claiming the first set, Kauffman used her second timeout to kill their momentum. Again, Hecht emerged as the savior out of the break. Her kill sparked a five-point offensive run for the Lady Eagles. Fueled by a strong Weber-Gramly block and an ace by junior Kayla Martin, the team finally began to click. Reedy did steal a point to end Martin’s serving, but the team rebounded right back with Hecht at the helm. Poor service-receive on the final play of set one allowed Prosper to capture the set 25-20, giving them the 1-0 lead and all the momentum heading into set two.
Senior Macy Walterschied floated over a beautiful serve to help Prosper earn the first point of set two, but a wounded Reedy was not ready to back out of the match just yet. They responded with two points, which knotted up the set early. Senior Hope Gramly got her first big kill of the night as she put away a wide-open slide down the line. Prosper held on to lead as a few Reedy errors prevented them from building any offense. Weber was quite the attacker, as she slammed a sharply cute ball right into the chest of a Reedy defender. She followed that kill up with another one down the line and off the block.
“We set our outsides a lot because they get a lot of kills and do really awesome, but (Coach Kauffman) was like ‘they know we go to our outsides,’ so we had to push pins,” Weber said. “I got the first couple sets of the game, and then it was like kill, kill, kill.”
Defensively, the team remained sharp as well. In one of the most impressive plays of the year by the Lady Eagles, Martin chased down a shanked pass to keep the ball live, and Gramly’s stout block ended the play in favor of Prosper. The excitement was short-lived, however, as Reedy ramped up their play to re-tie the match at 13-all. After a Prosper timeout, the Lady Lions went on a seven-point scoring run powered by senior Ashlyn Rasnick-Pope at the service line. Gramly was finally able to get the team back on track with another big kill, but Reedy’s offense continued to overpower the Prosper defense. Despite a short comeback run, the Lady Lions took set two at 25-19 to tie up the match.
Set three was just as tight between the two teams. Though Prosper grabbed the early lead, Reedy was still competing from their side of the net. Weber helped the team remain on top, adding a few more kills and a block to her night. Reedy fired back as Rasnick-Pope’s powerful swing gave the ball to the Lady Lions. The Lady Eagles continued to show their tenacity out on the court as several players came up big defensively. Junior Kylie Mote came in off the bench and had two big digs that helped Prosper keep the ball on their side. Hecht also had a phenomenal one-handed dig to keep the Lady Eagles ahead by five. As Mote checked back in the match, her ace put the Lady Eagles within three points of regaining the lead, and resilient defense allowed the Lady Eagles to take set three 25-17, putting them just one set away from clinching the match.
The battle for the Regional Quarterfinal title continued as both teams rallied for the lead in set four. Prosper’s block came alive behind Whitmire’s strong serving, but Reedy’s Rasnick-Pope sent a deep kill down the line and out of play to end the setter’s streak. The team responded quickly, as Hecht saw her first attacking action of the set, putting away one on the outside. One point separated the two teams for the majority of the set, which kept the intensity high. A series of tight calls by the referees made the set even more interesting. Kauffman used a timeout to allow her team to settle down a bit. Reedy grabbed the lead late in the set at 17-20, led by Stephanie Young back at the line. As junior Morgan Monroe checked into the match to serve, the team rallied back to re-tied the score at 20-all before finally stealing back the lead behind a huge Gramly slam. Killinger came out of a Reedy timeout and grounded a hard ball down the line to extend their lead to 22-20. With just three points standing in the way of the match, Reedy fought back to get back to get within one point. But with the offense on fire, the Lady Eagles were too much as Prosper clinched the match behind a game-winning Killinger kill (25-22).
“I’m relieved,” said head coach Erin Kauffman about the match results. “I’m happy — we have a big day tomorrow with our seniors signing and I’m really glad we won. I think we put ourselves in a good position.”
While the team still has a few days to recover, they have already started preparing for the Regional Tournament.
“We’re super excited. It’s the first time in three years since we’ve (advanced),” Weber said. “We’ll just come out Friday super pumped.”
The Lady Eagles (42-6) will take on Red Oak (37-5) for the Regional Semifinals on Friday, Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. The tournament will take place at Richardson Berkner High School.