The Denton Lady Broncos entered their fourth district match of the season against Fort Worth Brewer with injury concerns all over the team, and head coach Danielle Silva wanted to see greater offensive versatility and blocking after falling in three sets to Trophy Club Nelson on the road Friday.
In light of the Lady Broncos’ inconsistency due to a swinging-door lineup, they were able to put the memories of Byron Nelson in the past with a 25-12, 25-22, 25-23 home victory to even their District 5-4A record at 2-2 and improve to 11-12 overall.
“We played well,” Silva said. “We got some kids in. I pulled up a freshman to kind of see how she handled varsity and she played well. I think we needed that game. We lost to [Wichita Falls] Rider, we beat [Wichita Falls] Old High and we lost to [Nelson] in three, so to come out and beat Brewer, it was a game we needed to win.”
Denton’s offense was paced by junior outside hitter Jade Akins’ 13 kills while sophomore libero Emily Curtis bolstered the defense with 21 digs. Sophomore outside hitter Kenzie Dozier also had nine kills and 10 digs, with junior Cody Jones filling out the offense with six kills.
Junior setter Hannah Altman also led Denton with 18 assists and three blocks, and with the Lady Broncos getting freshman setter Emily Acker back from an ankle injury, they were able to move back to their 6-2 formation with two setters compared to the 5-1 formation they used in their loss to Nelson, a match that Silva felt didn’t reflect the team’s true talent.
Jade Akins’ kill and sophomore Dana Akins’ ace gave the Lady Broncos a 10-3 advantage in the opening set as their offense was too much for Brewer to handle and couldn’t dig out of the hole.
The second and third sets were much closer than the first, something Silva said was a welcome sight for a team still on the mend and searching for their identity.
Denton shot out to a 4-0 start and extended its lead to 8-3, but the Lady Bears (0-4 district) kept within striking distance and eventually tied the set at 16, prompting a Denton timeout. Brewer then grabbed a 19-17 lead, but the Lady Broncos rallied to tie it at 22 before scoring the next three points for the 25-22 win.
The third set again started 8-3, but this time in favor of the Lady Bears, which forced Silva into another timeout, where she challenged her team to seize the moment.
“I looked at them and said, ‘Either we are going to win this in three and let them take this game or we are going to just let them have it and we are going to go to four,’” Silva said. “That apparently worked and snapped them back to reality. That’s why I like the challenges because my team can snap back. They can lose the focus, but regain it really quickly.”
The final set went back and forth, with the Lady Bears taking a 15-13 lead. But Denton responded with solid effort on the defensive end and a six-point run to take a 19-15 lead. Brewer inched back to draw within 24-22, but Dozier’s quick strike down the left sideline ended the threat and the match.
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873 and via Twitter at @PatrickHayslip.