Tuesday , 19 June 2018

Joe Arriola: Lady Broncs’ State Bound, Final Thoughts On North Football, and More

Who’s up for a road trip?

Tomorrow morning I will be making the near five-hour journey to San Marcos for the UIL Class 5A state volleyball tournament. It’s easily going to be the longest car trip I’ve ever taken by myself but I must admit I’m very excited about having another chance to cover a state championship game. In 2010, I had the privilege of watching the Boyd girls soccer team take the field in the title game at Round Rock. Unfortunately, the Lady Broncos were ripped off on a late penalty, which resulted in a game-winning goal for The Woodlands. Jimmie Lankford’s girls would go on to redeem themselves with a title win in 2011 but sadly I was not able to make it down to Austin for the game.

So, this will be my second opportunity to see one of our local sports teams capture championship gold and I hope that’s exactly what happens this weekend in San Marcos.

Interestingly enough, my first-ever varsity sports assignment in my career as a writer was a McKinney Boyd girls volleyball match back in 2007. As you might expect, the Lady Broncos dominated the game and afterward I had a chance to meet Kelly Quinn for the first time. She was, and still is, one of the most passionate head coaches I’ve ever interviewed. In fact, the second time I met her was a couple of months later when her girls won the district championship in 9-4A. I may still have that interview somewhere on an old voice recorder but as I recall the first minute was the sound of Quinn trying to hold back her tears. I remember standing there, not sure if I should pat her on the back or simply walk away and let her have a moment. It was an awkward moment indeed but, even more than her on court success with the Lady Broncos, that night showed me just the kind of person coach Quinn is and how much she cares about her program.

This weekend may very well be the moment Quinn and the Lady Broncos have been waiting for since the school first opened its doors in 2006. As soon as you walk into McKinney Boyd gymnasium, one of the first things that catches your eye is the number of volleyball banners hanging from the rafters, especially for a program in its sixth-year of existence. What you won’t find, however, is a banner with the words ‘State Championship’ stitched across it.

Not yet, anyway.

The Time Is Now For Boyd Volleyball

With a sweep of Austin Westlake in the state quarterfinals, the McKinney Boyd Lady Broncos are now bound for the state tournament in San Marcos. Quinn’s girls entered postseason play with a ‘state-or-bust’ mentality and have blown through the competition to put themselves just two wins away from school history.

“We have a chance to go all the way,” Quinn said. “It’s so exciting because what we’ve been working on all season long can actually happen. They are so determined right now. I’ve never had a team quite like this ever.”

When McKinney Boyd headed down to Sam Houston state last week, they were ranked No. 3 in the state. The Lady Broncos went on to beat Georgetown in the regional semifinals and followed that up with a huge victory over the No. 2 team in the state, Westlake.

“It wasn’t an easy match for us at all,” Quinn said of her team’s sweep over Westlake. “It was point for point until right at the end. Yes, we swept them but it was a great match and they played great.”

The Lady Broncs’ victories in Huntsville were good enough to move them up to No. 1 in the latest state volleyball poll.

“I don’t really think there’s a team in the state that can beat us right now,” Quinn said. “There’s no hoping we win or happy to be there. They still know what the ultimate goal is.”

McKinney Boyd will begin the state tournament on Friday at 5 p.m. versus Houston Cy Falls (40-7), which is currently ranked No. 4 in the state poll.

“I need [our girls] to be aware of the atmosphere,” Quinn said. “It’s the same net, same court, same ball we’ve always played with.”

North Football Overcomes The Odds

Let’s face it, not many people thought the McKinney North football team would make the playoffs in 2011. I’ll go ahead and include myself in that group of nonbelievers. With all the rumors circulating of who would and wouldn’t be taking the field for the Bulldogs in the fall it was hard to believe that the program could stay focused on breaking a five-year playoff drought.

Although I missed key midseason games versus Richardson Pearce and (for the first time ever) crosstown rival McKinney High, I was thrilled to be a part of the Dawgs late season effort when they won back-to-back games at Ron Poe Stadium to reach ‘the Promised Land’. We all love to root for an underdog and the North football program embodied that underdog spirit in its 2011 season.

According to everyone else, the Dawgs weren’t supposed to make the playoffs. Early in the summer I wrote a column where I pointed out that in order for North to make the postseason the players had to stick together and not get distracted by what everyone else thought of their chances. For all 11 games they played this fall, the Bulldogs did exactly that.

They weren’t supposed to beat undefeated Frisco Centennial yet they took the field as if it was their night to win that game. Sure, it would have been great to see North win its first playoff game since 2005. But winning in the playoffs isn’t what made this year’s group great. It was the collective effort of a group of players turning a program around that many thought would never see a winning season again.

That’s what made this year’s Bulldogs great.

Lady Dawgs Hoops Welcomes Lovejoy Transfer

The McKinney North girls basketball team has set a goal this season to reach the state championship in Class 4A. Joining the team this year to help in that effort is sophomore Mikaehla Connor, who played on the 2010-2011 Lovejoy girls basketball team that made it all the way to the final game in 3A before falling to Abilene Wylie.

“She brings the defense,” North head coach Michael Oldham said.

Connor was named the defensive player of the year in her district last season. Her mother served as head coach of the Lady Leopards last season and with her no longer at Lovejoy, Mikaehla was able to play in her hometown of McKinney.

“She’s always been a McKinney kid,” Oldham said.

In addition to playing lockdown defense, Connor is also a great scorer as well and is currently behind Alexis Mason in team scoring.

-Joe Arriola, TownSquareBuzz.com

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