Volleyball sets sights on sixth title


Chris Prudhomme

Celebrating its bid to the state tournament, the Leopard volleyball team is seeking its 6th state championship in the last seven years after defeating Prosper 3-1 in the Regional Championship Saturday, Nov. 15 in Garland.

Kevin Davis, Sports Editor

The fourth time was a charm for the Leopard volleyball team as it defeated district 10-5A rival Prosper 3-1 in the Regional Championship for a bid to the state tournament. The two schools played three times in the regular season with the Eagles winning the last two times 3-0.

Early in district play, the Leopards beat the Eagles in four sets at home, sparking an intense rivalry for the remainder of the season.

“We knew they were a good team and we knew that they would be some of the biggest competition in our region,” junior Sarah Langs said. “After we beat them, it felt great, but we knew having to play them again would be a challenge. They’re a team that has a lot of fight and skill.”

The second time the teams played, the Eagles were too much for the Leopards, winning 3-0. With the loss, both teams were left in a tie at the top of the district, so a third game was scheduled to determine which team would get the district’s top playoff seed.

Unfortunately, the Eagles defeated the Leopards once again in three sets and took the district crown. Knowing there was a chance the two teams could possibly meet again, the loss was quickly put in the rearview mirror.

“The second loss to Prosper didn’t change our confidence,” junior Avery Arrelano said. “It just gave us a stronger mindset going into playoffs and the fact that Frisco Centennial was on the opposite side of the bracket gave us a slight relief. But we knew that we had to beat Prosper at the right time and they can take the district championship title, but we will gladly take the Regional Championship title.”

After the Leopards swept Mansfield Summit in the regional semi-finals, they awaited the winner of the Waxahachie and Prosper. The Eagles found themselves down two sets to Waxahachie, but the team rallied back to win in five sets and force yet a fourth match against the Leopards.

On Saturday, the Leopards’ and the Eagles’ fans filled the arena to watch the two teams battle it out for the regional final. Even though the Leopards had lost their last 6 sets to Prosper, they put that all behind them.

Starting strong, the Lady Leopards battled hard and took set one 26-24. Midway through the second set, the Leopards sparked a run to pull ahead of the Eagles to win set two 25-16.

Down two sets, Prosper found themselves in a similar situation as the night before. The Eagles bounced back in set three and took the set 17-25. Momentum began to shift towards the Eagles’ bench for a moment. However, midway through the fourth set, the Leopards began to pull away. The Leopards won set four 25-19, which crowned them regional champions and more importantly secured them a spot in the 5a state tournament.

The Lady Leopards have been to the state tournament 6 out of the last 7 years. After winning five consecutive state titles the team missed the state tournament. However, they find themselves back in the tournament in Jason Nicholson’s first year as head coach.

“After our game Friday night the team and staff came together and just had a big talk just pouring our hearts out about how bad we wanted to go to state,” junior Jordan Fate said. “That set the tone for the rest of the night and the following day on Saturday. We knew we could beat them because we did it before, and that’s what we focused on. Every single person on the team wanted to win more than anything and our mindset was defeat is not an option.”

The Leopards face the Aledo Bearcats (41-8) in the state semifinals Thursday at the Caldwell Center in Garland at 7 p.m.