ROWLETT — Leading McKinney High School two sets to none, Richardson Pearce seemed to have control of the teams’ first-round UIL 5A volleyball playoff match at Rowlett High School Monday night.
Pearce students directed chants of “We can’t hear you!” toward the MHS students and its faithful.
Fast forward three sets, and the only sound reverberating from the gym was the high-pitch scream of the MHS volleyball squad – as it stunned the District 9-5A champion in five sets (21-25, 15-25, 25-23, 25-23, 15-12) to advance to the second round of 5A-UIL playoffs.
“That feels really good,” MHS head coach Jessica Camp said.
The silence from the Pearce faithful was deafening.
Pearce earned the district title by accumulating a 30-10 overall record and going undefeated – 14-0 – in district play. The Lionettes had just slipped into the playoffs, winning District 10-5A’s fourth and final seeding by defeating Plano West in a play-in match last week.
McKinney will play the winner of Tuesday’s Rockwall-Garland Namaan Forest match in the second round. The date and time of that match has not been announced.
The Lionettes controlled most of the fifth set, grabbing an early 6-1 lead. The Mustangs would battle back, shrinking McKinney’s lead to 11-9. But McKinney would regain control and win the fifth set 15-12. For Camp, the fifth set is somewhere she and her team are comfortable.
“It’s like I told them, ‘no one wants to go to game five with us,’ because we’ve got game five,” Camp said.
While McKinney’s first-round match was filled with pressure and drama, Camp said the Lionettes are prepared for what lies ahead because of their 10-5A schedule, which Camp said was filled with pressure-packed games every week. “We’ve been there before; we’re used to the pressure,” she said.
McKinney appeared to be rattled at the start the game as nerves helped give Pearce a 2-0 lead in the match.
Pearce’s length and height, especially at the net, gave MHS trouble early on as the Mustangs blocked several kill attempts by MHS hitters.
Camp said her hitters adjusted in third set and starting seeing the blocks, hitting around them instead of “randomly hitting the ball.”
Along with a more focused offensive attack, Camp challenged her seniors at the start of the third set, telling them to follow the freshman and step up their game.
“They took that charge and went with it,” Camp said.
She noted nerves played a part in her seniors play early on, saying they seemed a bit shaken knowing Tuesday’s could be their last of the season, and their high school career.
Stats were not available upon submission.