The Lady Panthers defeated Anna in four sets, 26-24, 25-20, 21-25, 25-19, Tuesday night at Van Alstyne Middle School to give first-year head coach LeQuia Collins a victory over her former squad.
Collins spent all of last season as an assistant and junior varsity coach with the Lady Coyotes before coming to Van Alstyne and leading the team to improve to 4-0 in non-tournament play.
“It was a bittersweet thing because I came from there, but at the same time I was very pumped up on beating them,” Collins said. “It was kind of a milestone in leaving there and coming here and finishing the job.”
The first set went back-and-forth before Van Alstyne went up as much as 19-14. The Lady Coyotes would go on a 10-2 run to get to set-point at 24-21, but the Lady Panthers would not go down lightly.
“I think it was just momentum and nerves. I called a timeout, told them to calm down and relax,” Collins said. “We practice being behind a lot and coming back while minimizing our errors and capitalizing on the other team’s mistakes and it paid off.”
Sophomore Peyton Welch led the charge with an ace that tied it at 24-all before serving another ace to win the set in extras.
During the second and fourth sets, the Lady Panthers went up big before holding off a Lady Coyote rally. Van Alstyne went up 11-2 in the second while Anna did not get closer than within four points the rest of the way. In the fourth set, the Panthers scored nine of the first 11 points and went up as much as 10 before sealing up the win on their fifth match-point attempt.
“The girls let them come back, but Anna missed a lot of serves which helped us out and we were able to finish,” Collins said.
Junior Ellie Perkins had a monster game, leading the team with 10 kills and seven blocks, four in the decisive set. She added two aces. Sophomore Jessica Gallagher finished with a team-high 11 assists, while junior Raigan Servati added seven kills and five of the team’s 16 blocks.
“It was a good team effort and good team win,” Servati said. “There was a lot of good plays that made us finish strong.”
The win over Anna comes on the heels of a third-place finish for the Panthers in the Farmersville Tournament last weekend. They earned wins over North Garland, Tom Bean and Farmersville. They ended the night with a win over North Garland in the third-place game.
Sophomore Shelby Litzkow earned All-tournament honors.
“That was a big deal for us to go out and win third, it was a big step for us to improve,” Servati said.
Added Collins, “It was big to finish third. We knocked Farmersville out of its own tournament and I think the girls did a good job. Shelby was all over the court, she was the backbone of the team for the tournament.”
Van Alstyne will play at Pottsboro on Sept. 2, Bonham on Sept. 5 and begin district play on Sept. 12.