By Mike Bruu, TSB Sports Editor
1. I would like to begin this week’s column by confirming the rumors that have been swirling around Twitter and Instagram, (I think you can start rumors on Instagram). Yes, I have also been traded to the Toronto Blue Jays, although I believe my salary is the lowest of the six that will be heading north of the border. Why TSB won’t give me Jose Reyes money is beyond me.
2. For those who belong in the territory of McKinney known as “Red Nation,” this is your weekend to shine in the spotlight. On Friday night, the fun will get started in the great city of Garland, where the Lady Bronco volleyball team will take on New Braunfels in the state semifinal match at the Garland Culwell Center, with the match beginning around 5 p.m. In five playoff matches, Boyd has lost a total of two games out of 17 played, including a sweep of District 10-5A rival Plano West in the regional quarterfinal match to beat the Lady Wolves for a second straight time.
I attended the team’s Monday practice expecting to see a bunch of players who were over-anxious and stressed out about the week ahead of them. I mean, seriously, who wouldn’t be a little stressed out knowing that in five days you had an opportunity to win a game that puts you in the Texas volleyball state championship? However, what I observed was a collection of girls who were scrimmaging loose and carefree, while maintaining a sense of purpose in every move that they made. When a volleyball left the playing area, a new one was thrown onto the court and it was as if play never stopped. If one of the girls made a mistake, a quick nod of the head from a fellow teammate or a motivating word from head coach Kelly Quinn, who watched the workout rather quietly off to the side, was all that was needed to shake the play off and move on.
To say that the Lady Broncos were relaxed would be an understatement, and perhaps that makes them even scarier heading into Friday night.
“Last year we were here in the state championship, so we know what we have to do to win,” said senior Megan Mollett. “Everyone is working their butt off in practice, but at the same time we stay chill.”
For the seven seniors on the Boyd roster, this will be their final chance at bringing a state championship to their school. After a crushing defeat in the state finals a season ago versus Coppell, Mollett said that the experience from the senior group is what is so different about the mentality of the team heading into Friday.
This year, the girls are treating it as a business trip.
“Last year we wanted to go to state and we kind of expected it, but we weren’t really satisfied because we wanted to win,” said Mollett. “When we got there last year it was really exciting, but this year we need to get business taken care of. We want that ring.”
“I think it is because they have experience,” said Quinn. “Teams at this point can either go down the super high strung-out road or the relaxed road. Obviously it is not just another game, but you have to go out and practice like it is.”
As for the semifinal match with New Braunfels, senior captain Kaley Seaber said that if her team plays the way they are capable of, the Lady Broncos should return to the state final on Saturday night.
“They run a 5-1 with their setter and their biggest players are in the middle, so as long as we shut them down I think we have a good chance of winning, if we take care of what we need to,” said Seaber. “We are fully expecting to be in the finals.”
“I think they are beatable,” said Quinn. “We have to play well but we are excited. What we have seen from them so far is that if we minimize our mistakes, I think we will be ok.”
3. While the play of Mollett has dominated the spotlight this season, and rightfully so might I add, the Lady Broncos’ most underrated player might just be Kaley Seaber. Seaber, who plays libero and serves as the team captain, has earned the honor of being the coach of the court by several of her teammates.
“We actually coach ourselves pretty much on the court, and you can tell in a game who runs the show and it is Kaley,” said senior Kelly Koop. “As soon as we go into a timeout, whatever Quinn is about to say, Kaley has already said. She is always 10 seconds in front of everybody and it is awesome having a captain who can do that.”
4. Quote of the Week: “It is incredibly hard. We played Plano five times and went 4-1 against them. They are a very good team and it is hard to beat a team that many times. It really is. I was really nervous about that game before hand, because it is not always who is the best volleyball team. I think we were the better team, but it is that crosstown district rival familiarity and I knew it was going to be pretty emotional too. We talked about the emotions before that match and said we can’t let them control us.”
— Kelly Quinn, regarding her emotions heading into the regional final match versus District 10-5A rival Plano last week
5. On Wednesday, Mollett signed her letter of intent to play at the University of Arkansas next year. Potentially after Saturday night, I wonder how important that moment will rank in the highlights of her week?
6. Just because I have to throw it out there, but the other state semifinal match immediately following Boyd-New Braunfels is Coppell taking on Houston Clear Lake. Rematch, anyone?
7. The other main event for “Red Nation” on Friday night is its football team’s bi-district round game versus Dallas Jesuit at Plano’s Clark Stadium. This is the third straight season the Broncos have made the playoffs. In 2010, Boyd lost 43-23 in the area round versus A&M Consolidated, and last year Skyline knocked off the Broncos 31-8 in the bi-district round.
The Broncos are riding some momentum after thumping their crosstown rival last week to clinch a playoff berth, finishing second in a very competitive District 10-5A behind top-ten Allen. For Jesuit, a 26-point victory over Richardson sealed up third place for the Rangers, as they finished the District 9-5A campaign with a 5-2 record behind Skyline and Lake Highlands.
The Rangers have no shortage of talent on their roster, including several players who have had all-state caliber seasons. Quarterback Jack Brezette finished in the top-five in the area in passing with 2,518 yards, and was tied for third with McKinney’s Robert Somborn in touchdown passes with 31.
However, the brightest star on the Jesuit squad might be Brezette’s favorite target, wide receiver Jake Oliver. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound senior who will attend the University of Texas next season, surpassed Jordan Shipley’s Texas high school receptions record of 264 back on Oct. 20 in a loss versus Lake Highlands. Oliver caught 15 passes for 174 yards, giving him 274 career receptions by night’s end. He enters Friday night’s game with 288 career receptions, and will likely be the focal point of the Bronco defense as they try and shut down a Jesuit offense that is top-10 in the area in both scoring and total offense.
8. So just how important is Bryan Driskell to the Bronco offense? In games where Driskell runs for more than 100 yards, they are 6-2. When Driskell runs for less than 100 yards, the Broncos are 0-2. In the six victories, Boyd averaged 40.5 points per game. In the two losses when he ran for more than 100 yards, they averaged 20 points per game. Lastly, in the two losses when Driskell ran for less than 100 yards, the Broncos average 6.5 points per game.
I believe this Driskell kid might be pretty important.
9. Congrats to the Tampa Bay Rays starter David Price on winning the BBWAA Cy Young Award last night, a well-deserved honor for baseball’s best left-handed arm.
10. So Texas wants to secede from the Union now? I just thought that was a hypothetical you and your buddies tossed around at the lunch table in eighth grade when you found out that the Lone Star State was once its own country a long, long time ago. I guess some people never really do grow up.
11. Congratulation goes out to all of the Aggie faithful around the city of McKinney. I don’t mind you soaking in this moment after beating the No. 1 team in the nation, but please stop telling me you expected to walk into Tuscaloosa and beat Alabama. I don’t think you can reach that level of cockiness quite yet. Leave that arrogance to Texas fans and their Longhorn Network. Yes, I am sports trolling today.
12. Random sports story of the week: In Davidson, N.C., Davidson Day quarterback Will Grier threw for 837 yards and 10 touchdowns to defeat Harrells Christian 104-80 in a North Carolina Independent Schools’ state playoff game last Friday night. Day surpassed the previous passing record set by Pacific Palisades (CA) QB David Koral in 2000, and the 184 combined points surpassed the previous state record of 142 set back in 1930.
If you are the coach of Harrells Christian and are told before the game that your offense will score 80 points tonight, you smile and ask how much you won by. I’m pretty sure you don’t expect to plan a defensive meeting the following Monday and discuss why your team allowed 104 points.
13. Well that about concludes my business for this week. I hope I am still talking to Texas the State at this time next week, not Texas the country. Until next time, ladies and gentlemen.