FORT WORTH — After recently enduring injuries to some of its top players, Denton had been on a bit of a losing skid. But after Tuesday’s dominant three-set performance against Keller Fossil Ridge, the Lady Broncos are now riding a three-match winning streak and look to be in midseason form heading into Friday’s district opener against Wichita Falls Rider.
Denton’s offense and defense were both on point during their 25-18, 25-13, 25-18 victory, keeping the Lady Panthers off track by constantly testing their back-row and net defense with efficient serves and attacks.
Sophomore co-captain Kenzie Dozier guided the Lady Broncos’ offense with 10 kills, while junior outside hitter and co-captain Jade Akins made her return to the court after time missed to injury with seven kills.
Junior co-captain Hannah Altman had several parts to her game working well as she added five aces and five kills. Freshman Emily Acker helped Denton’s offense with 18 assists, while sophomore libero Emily Curtis set the defensive tone with 15 digs.
“This was a good warm-up for district and this is what I needed to see going into district,” Denton head coach Danielle Silva said. “It was Jade’s first game back in weeks and it was really nice to have her back. She’s not back to her full potential, but she’s still earning kills. She’s smart. Everyone is stepping up and it’s really nice to see everybody wanting to bring more to the team.”
During the Lady Broncos’ previous lull, they struggled staying mentally engaged and it’s an active readiness that Silva has hoped to instill in her team in transition the past few injury-plagued weeks.
“We played some of the better volleyball that we’ve been playing lately,” Silva said. “We needed this tonight. We’ve been working on staying active in play and we were about 95 percent active tonight. I think that’s the difference from previous games to tonight. It’s being active on your block, active on your defense and being ready to hit at all times.”
The Lady Broncos (9-10) took command of the first set right from the start with a 5-0 run, but the Lady Panthers were able to come back and tie the game at 9. Denton then took six of the next seven points to claim a 15-10 advantage. Denton then used two kills by Akins and an ace by Curtis to extend the lead to 19-11. Fossil Ridge clawed back to 21-16 with four-point run, but Denton was able to take advantage of some Lady Panthers miscues to close out the set 25-18.
The Lady Broncos were firmly in control throughout the second set. When Fossil Ridge began to make a run, Denton would limit it to a few points and then go on another run of its own. The Lady Broncos began the second set similarly to the first set, except this time their offense kept in a steady rhythm all the way out to a 10-0 lead, which they held on to for a 25-13 game victory.
In the final set, the Lady Panthers hung tough with Denton, scratching to within 20-18, but Silva called a timeout to reset her team’s focus and the Lady Broncos responded by suffocating Fossil Ridge with their defense and quick, transition offense.
“We were ahead, but the mental thought process was definitely different,” Silva said. “We were just more mentally there. Even when they got close, we were still active and participating. I called the last timeout because I noticed we were going back to not being engaged, so I just wanted to reset our mind. Then we earned the next five points to take the match.”