Volleyball sweeps Cooper, starts district play Saturday
WOODROW — Frenship volleyball spent the better part of its first 30 non-district games working out kinks and trying to prevent teams from going on runs.
On Tuesday, in the Tigers’ final pre-district match, it looked like Frenship finally had it down.
Frenship swept aside Cooper (25-20, 27-25, 25-23) in a hard-fought match, capitalizing on Lady Pirate errors to take the match in three.
“We’ve had our ups and downs this season as it’s went on,” Frenship coach Jennifer McCully said. “I felt like we’ve played competitive the entire time. Anytime you play Lubbock Cooper and Frenship together, it’s going to be a tight game, and we knew coming in it was going to be pretty intense.”
The Tigers (15-16) were coming off losses in three of their last four games, still needing to find their rhythm for Saturday’s District 4-4A opener.
On the other side, the Lady Pirates (16-7), winners of four of their last five, came into the match with a full head of steam, looking to continue their recent string of strong play.
However, the Tigers approached the mental side of the match strong, while the Lady Pirates were, at times, lacking, Cooper coach Courtney Pesterfield said.
Frenship had the ability to put each set away, coming from behind late in the second frame.
“We’ve been playing some really good volleyball lately,” Pesterfield said, “and this was a test to see how far we’ve come along. … We played well. This is just one of those mental victories we really wished we could have had.”
Neither team created much separation in any set as the squads limited runs and bounced back after errors.
The Tigers’ five-point win in the first set matched the largest lead for the Tigers on the night. Cooper’s biggest lead was three, which came at the 10-7 mark in the final set.
“We’ve been really trying to focus on not giving teams runs,” said Frenship senior Malori Maddox, who finished with eight digs. “Lately we’ve been giving more than too many in a row, and we’ve been trying to focus on no more than two or three in a row.”
The Tigers nearly accomplished that Tuesday, giving up one run of four points in the second set.
Just before the run, Maddox had sparked the Tigers with three service aces to give the Tigers a 20-16 lead. Cooper went down 22-19 before the four-point run, getting set point at 24-23.
However, a failed dig attempt by Cooper gave the Tigers new life, and Frenship eventually won it on some miscommunication on a service return.
“I really thought that lots of us were playing really good,” Cooper outside hitter Megan Allen said, “but our enthusiasm really kind of fell down on little mistakes. I think that we wanted it so bad that our nerves got a hold of us late in the game.”
The Pirates went ahead 10-7 in the third set, but Frenship went on a 10-3 run to regain the lead. Cooper cut it to one point six times the rest of the way, but Amber Bowman’s 14th kill of the night ended the threat and the match.
Frenship’s Clarissa Gonzales had 10 kills, and Emily Pettiet chipped in eight to lead the offense. Gonzales tied for the team assist lead with Bailey Wilbanks, each tallying 19 dimes. Gonzales also led the team with 14 digs.
Cooper was paced by Summer Wilson, who led the team with 11 kills and also added eight digs. Allen had nine kills, while Katy Headrick and Claire Shaver had five and four kills, respectively.
Torey Kay led all players with 30 assists, and Kati Macha led the Lady Pirate defense with 17 digs.
The Tigers start district play against Plainview at 2:15 p.m. Saturday in the Tiger Pit, while the Lady Pirates host Andrews at noon Saturday.
Despite the loss, Allen is still confident her team can rebound and make some noise in district.
“I think our team is playing great, we have lots of seniors,” she said. “I think this can definitely be the year we succeed.”
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