Volleyball defeats McKinney North in three sets

Senior+Ellie+Jonke+hits+the+ball+for+the+return.+Jonke%27s+hit+goes+into+a+gap+and+won+the+point+for+the+Leopards.

Jade Owens

Senior Ellie Jonke hits the ball for the return. Jonke’s hit goes into a gap and won the point for the Leopards.

On Tuesday night, the volleyball team faced district opponent McKinney North and defeated them in three sets. The win against North contributed to a now 5-0 district record and added a fifth win in three straight sets. 

“We played really well,” senior defensive specialist Grace McLaughlin said. “The first set we started off with a run which gave us momentum. Our serve receive and defense was consistent and scrappy and our offense did a good job of moving the ball around.”

According to the players, McKinney North brought new competition as the team beat previous opponents with little challenge. Head coach Ryan Mitchell was looking forward to this game to provide the girls with more competitiveness. 

“We knew going in that McKinney North was a very good team,” Mitchell said. “We [knew we] would have to be ready and prepared to play them. It definitely heightened the focus of the girls this week in practice.”

To prepare for the game, coaches and team studied film and scouting reports to learn about North’s tendencies and key players. 

“North is our biggest competition in [the] district so we prepared diligently and more specifically, [we paid more attention] to who and what their players do,” McLaughlin said. “Our mindset was to play clean, solid volleyball and play our game.”

The team practiced ways to execute successfully both on defense and offense based on their studying of McKinney North. 

“Practice helped us read the ball better and know the game before we played it,” senior defensive specialist Kealy Giddens said. “McKinney North is a hard team and they really got us going, but with our stamina and hard work, we were able to play to the best of our abilities.” 

The team is practicing for each game one at a time and studying how their next opponent plays. Practices consist of game-like situations to get the team acclimated to playing together in high intensity situations. 

“Practice helped get us in the right mindset for this type of game,” Mitchell said. “It put us in situations for us to be successful. [Tuesday] gave us a chance to compete at a high level.  Anytime you can do that, you are getting better and preparing yourself for the playoffs.”

The team is using district games to better prepare themselves for regionals and playoffs. Coming off of a state championship, the girls say they are focused on gaining that title again this year. 

“Our goals for districts are to come out first and be prepared for regionals,” Giddens said. “Although we focus [on] one game at a time, looking ahead to what is to come is essential if we want to be state champions again.”