The Denton Lady Broncos are about the only District 5-4A team to have any success against Trophy Club Byron Nelson this season as they have been the only ones to take a set against the district leaders.
However, Nelson’s memory of that misstep was a driving force as they swept host Denton 25-23, 25-19, 25-15 on Tuesday night to remain perfect in district play.
“We’re undefeated in district,” Nelson head coach Libby Patheco said. “The only set we lost in district was when Denton came to our place. When we came in here, we still had that on our mind. They did a great job pushing us. We come into matches like this looking for the adjustments that teams make against us.”
Sophomore outside-hitter Haley Tippet led the Lady Bobcats, now 29-11 on the season and 10-0 in district play, with 16 kills, and Patheco said Tippet is part of a trio of skilled outside hitters for her team.
“We actually have three hitters right now that are performing really well for us,” Patheco said. “Sometimes whenever one player isn’t doing what they need to do, we are lucky enough to have a couple other weapons. Haley Tippett did a really good job being aggressive and being able to move it around. She causes a lot of damage out there for sure.”
Denton (18-17, 4-6) struggled corralling Nelson’s attacks, and head coach Danielle Silva said her team had difficulty with Nelson’s aggressiveness.
“We were a little bit out of system with our serve-receive,” Silva said. “They had some really aggressive servers, and we weren’t as consistent as we recently have been. We weren’t consistent on offense either. Byron Nelson is a great team. They are tops in our district. They haven’t lost a match in district play. We knew tonight was going to be competitive.”
In the first set, the two teams played to an early 6-6 tie, but several Denton miscues led to an 8-2 run by the Lady Bobcats. After a Denton timeout, the Lady Broncos stormed back to tie the set at 15-15 and then again at 19-19 but were unable to capture the lead as Nelson finished off the set with a 6-3 run.
The Lady Bobcats then channeled that momentum into a fast start in the second set as they jumped out to a quick 10-3 lead. The Lady Broncos were able to string together enough points to cut the deficit to 22-18, but that would be the closest Denton came as Tippet’s seven kills propelled Nelson to the 2-0 match advantage.
After Denton’s spirited effort at a comeback in the second set, Patheco said her team concentrated on eliminating long spurts against them.
“That second game we jumped out pretty quickly, [but] they were able to string two six-point runs on us,” Patheco said. “That’s what we focused on when we switched sides. We realized what was going on and made sure that wasn’t going to happen.”
The Lady Broncos were unable to take a lead in the third set as they fell victim to an early 9-3 Nelson run, before eventually falling 25-16.
“We can’t let people get off to a 7-2 run at the beginning,” Silva said. “We have to start from the beginning and finish at the end.”
Senior Kendall Wagner led the Lady Broncos with 11 kills, while senior Morgan Reese had 12 assists.
Several Lady Broncos did not play due to illness, forcing them to play with an uncommon lineup.
The Lady Broncos have four district matches remaining to finish the regular season. They face Wichita Falls and Azle on the road before finishing up at home with Fort Worth Brewer and Lake Dallas.
“We need to win first and foremost,” Silva said. “We need to play consistent, and we need to be healthy. Our middles were playing back row. They play amazing defense, but they are just tired. They’re not used to playing as much. You could tell they weren’t closing their block enough.”
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .