After the first trip through district play, three teams have separated themselves from the pack. Caddo Mills, Pilot Point and Gunter, all ranked among the states’ top 20 class 2A teams, appear to have locked down playoff spots.
Van Alstyne will be looking to capture that fourth postseason berth with important trips to Farmersville, Leonard and Sunnyvale on tap.
The Lady Panthers travel to Farmersville Friday to begin that make-or-break stretch.
Van Alstyne dropped a 3-0 decision to Gunter on Oct. 4, wrapping up the first trip through District 12-2A.
The Lady Panthers showed that they have the talent to compete with the best, hanging tough with the Lady Tigers in the first set. Freshman Maddison O’Hanlon had five kills in the opener, and her smoking shot to the back line tied the set at 17-all. The lead had bounced back and forth between the two teams, and that 17-17 tie was the seventh deadlock of the set.
Mikayla Watson recorded one of her 20 match kills in the game, and Emily Bruner sent in a winner to make it 19-17. Molly McQuirk sneaked in a soft shot to top the Lady Tiger run, but the visitors were too strong at the net, taking a 25-20 win in the first set.
Communication problems plagued Van Alstyne in the second set as Gunter got off to a 9-1 lead and was never threatened in a 25-17 win.
“We are making just too many mental errors right now and we have to challenge the team to get better.” Van Alstyne Coach Miranda Sun said.
“We are too hesitant to make plays because we don’t want to make a mistake when we get down.”
The Lady Panthers came back in the third set, playing much better defense at the net and on the back row. After ties at 12,13 and 14-all, Rebecca Franklin sent in a pair of kills for Van Alstyne. A shot to the back line by Jaden England gave the Lady Panthers a 17-14 lead.
Gunter rallied, and the set was tied at 20-20 before Bruner sent in a pair of winners.
The Lady Tigers held on for a 25-21 win to finish the first half of the season with a 5-1 mark.
Van Alstyne-Pilot Point
Taking on one of those state-ranked teams, Van Alstyne lost to Pilot Point on Tuesday as the offense could not muster any momentum.
The Lady Panthers did put up a valiant struggle in the middle set before losing, 26-24.
The team had just 10 kills in the match and Brooke Robertson’s five aces.
Van Alstyne travels to Farmersville tonight to start their run through the three teams they need to beat to land that fourth playoff berth.