Volleyball’s playoff run commences

Head+coach+Natalie+Puckett+addresses+the+team+after+a+timeout.+The+leopards+are+advancing+to+the+regional+quarterfinals+against+Forney+on+Tuesday.

Caroline Dolberry

Head coach Natalie Puckett addresses the team after a timeout. The leopards are advancing to the regional quarterfinals against Forney on Tuesday.

This past Tuesday, the lady leopards playoff run began with their first match against Crandall. Junior defensive specialist Isa Camacho started off the game with an ace putting the girls on top. Following Camacho’s lead, the leopards quickly increased their lead to 15-4. Sophomore middle Shelby Burriss ended the first match at 25-13 with a kill. 

“Shelby Burriss had a great game mainly because I noticed all the hard work she puts into practice,” junior outside hitter Nathalia Rodriguez said. “It was really obvious how focused and driven she was to win. She was very effective on the court and each time she went on she made a big difference each time she scored.”

In the second set, the leopards swiftly took the lead. The leopards executed and kept the pirates from scoring, winning the set 25-15. 

“Our team atmosphere and energy during playoffs is unmatched,” junior defensive specialist Caroline Collins said. “We spend a lot of time together on game days, and it is the most fun ever.”

Right off the bat, the pirates countered the leopards in the third set, tying up the score 6-6. The leopards started to inch away with the lead with sophomore defensive specialist Kalin Carlson’s ace. The pirates responded by coming back and evening up the score. Ultimately, the leopards took the win 25-21. 

“Personally, I feel like the game went amazingly,” Rodriguez said. “Everyone played with so much passion and urge to win and it really showed how much hard work we have put into practice and then it shows in games. Doing the little details such as watching films and learning how the other team plays really motivates us to play with 100% effort.”

With the weather delay postponing the game on Friday, the girls faced Whitehouse on Saturday in the second round. The first set was neck-and-neck, but the leopards claimed the game 25-17. 

“I think our game against Whitehouse went awesome,” Collins said. “We had a fun pregame in the locker room getting hype, and we carried that over to our game. We had so much energy and it was a blast.”

In the second set, the teams went back and forth. Eventually, the leopards edged in front of the wildcats winning the game 25-18.

“Whitehouse had a strong defense so they picked up on a lot of the balls we sent over,” sophomore middle hitter Sadie Jane Hand said. “We adjusted by hitting shots and making their defense move, giving more room for error. It was so fun for the team to jump around and celebrate after our win.”

In the third set, the leopards came out in the lead with senior middle Hannah Gonzales having numerous blocks. The girls took the win 25-12 and were crowned the title of area champions.

“During playoffs the level of play and energy is very necessary,” Rodriguez said. “I would say our team really knows how to build that excitement before games and practices. A good word to describe our team’s atmosphere is eagerness because we all want the same goal and we plan to reach it and we are very excited to go on the court and play our hearts out.”

The leopards will face Forney at Rockhill High School on Tuesday in the regional quarterfinals. 

“We spend countless hours preparing,” Collins said. “Coach Puckett plans out our practices and film studies very well. We spend a lot of time getting prepared, so we always know what to expect from teams. We are more than prepared and confident for the rest of playoffs.”