The Collinsville Lady Pirates volleyball team is rolling right now, winning its first two matches of the playoffs, including a dramatic comeback 25-20, 17-25, 25-21, 24-26 and 15-12 over Poolville on Friday, Nov. 8.
The Lady Pirates’ next game and opponent holds a little bit of weight to it. Not only can Collinsville advance to the regional semifinal round of the Class 2A playoffs, but they can erase memories of last season.
Windthorst not only ended the Lady Pirates’ season last year. The Lady Trojans swept Collinsville and head coach Melissa Johnson said there is plenty of motivation for the game Tuesday, Nov. 12, at Azle.
“For this particular group of girls, we got beat by Windthorst in the same round last year,” Johnson said. “That’s reason alone to play them again, it’s redemption. We were 32-11 last year and we are 36-10 this year. We’ve shown improvement in our record and in district. We want to get through this game to prove to ourselves we’ve overall improved.”
Johnson said the team still has room to grow.
“We’ve been able to defeat Poolville in volleyball the past two years,” Johnson said. “It’s been a rivalry and at the start of the year, we lost to them in two sets in a Whitesboro tournament. We knew we didn’t play our best in that game. We had to go out there and prove that we would remain strong in volleyball. They might have beat us in August, but it’s November and we’re ready to play.”
Lexie Martin led the offense with 16 kills while Katie Johnson had 13 and Makayla McDonnell added nine.
“We depend on Lexie to lead us in kills,” Johnson said. “There are games where we’re strong on offense and sometimes on defense. We were weaker on offense, but people say defense can win a game and that’s what happened for us. They put blocks up on Lexie and other players came through.”
Carrie Johnson kept the offense flowing with 33 assists and was second in digs with 18. Gracie Cavin paced the team in digs with 42.
“When you have one setter, the libero should get the most digs,” Johnson said. “If we can’t get the first ball up, then everything else doesn’t matter so Carrie did a good job helping out defensively. Katy Claytor and Johnson have both stepped up in different situations. Gracie was all over the place. We can’t do it without her.”
The Lady Pirates took a 2-1 lead, but dropped the fourth set 26-24. Johnson said she was proud of her team’s resilience.
“We ending up having several comebacks in multiple sets,” Johnson said. “We had to adjust to an official and you never blame an official. That’s adversity punching you in the face and you move on. We had a great comeback at the end.”
Overall, Johnson said there have been highs and lows through the first two rounds of the playoffs.
“Against Trenton, we came out really strong,” Johnson said. “We kind of lost our mojo and we didn’t reach our full potential, but a win is a win. We had our ups and downs against Poolville, but we don’t drop our heads and our comeback was a true testament to that.”
Windthorst will be a stout test particularly for the Lady Pirates’ defense, according to Johnson.
“They have an attacker that can hit cross and hit line,” Johnson said. “They’ve also got a lot of inexperience players, but they scrap and they don’t let a ball hit the floor. It should be a pretty even game. We need to get our kills up from the last game. We need to be prepared on defense and improve our offense. We have to get some blocks, which we have been weak on this year.”