With just a handful of games remaining in the 2013 season, McKinney North head coach Shannon Alvarado knows every game matters if her young Bulldogs are to qualify for the postseason. And North did themselves a huge favor Tuesday night, defeating Wylie East 3-1 (25-20, 25-17, 13-25, 25-23) at McKinney High School.
Tuesday’s match was originally scheduled to be held at McKinney North, but the game was moved to MHS about an hour before it was to begin because of a leak in the roof that allowed rain to fall onto the center court at North. Not deterred by the change in location, North prevailed and now sits at 17-11, 8-3, in good position moving into the final five games of the season to qualify for the playoffs.
North’s 8-3 record is good for third place in 13-4A, behind Lovejoy (28-10, 9-0) and Wylie (22-11, 8-1) in the district standings. The top-four teams in district play qualify for the postseason.
A pending postseason spot affected North’s play at times, Alvarado said. North won the first two sets 25-20 and 25-17, but struggled in the third set, missing offensive opportunities with Wylie East blocking a number of North’s kill shots. The Lady Bulldogs also gave away points through the service game.
Alvarado said her team looked “hesitant” in the third set, not knowing how to finish the match. She said the nerves showed in the third set and in parts of the fourth, noting a chance at the “postseason is something the girls on her team have never experienced.”
Despite some late nerves, Alvarado said North came out focused and ready to play, taking advantage of opportunities early on to win the first two sets. North would overcome a 13-25 loss in the third set to win the close fourth set 25-23 to seal the victory.
Kristi Carter stepped up huge for the Bulldogs, leading all defenders with 11 digs, three aces. Lindsey Denne also had a great performance for North, chipping in with 10 digs, two aces and 40 assists Tuesday.
North totaled 51 digs Tuesday. Darby Maclea added eight digs and two aces, Ali Michalak contributed six digs, Mary Valdez also had six digs and Abbey Middleton had four digs.
Courtney Kankel also had 13 kills and one solo block. Middleton compiled 11 kills and had another impressive night hitting .409 for North. Melissa Nichols added nine kills while Kali Viles chipped in eight kills. Other contributors to the teams 47 kills were, Emily Greim (2) and Carlie Roberson with one kill.
With four games left, and a pending matchup with first-place Wylie in Wylie Friday night, Alvarado said it is key her players play to their capability, because when they do, “they have the ability to play at a very high level.”
Photos courtesy of Kellie Anfonso. For more sports photos, go to Kellie1982.smugmug.com