Despite the fact that her team lost in four sets, there were still positives for Denton coach Danielle Silva to extract following Tuesday’s loss to Trophy Club Nelson.
For starters, her team refused to be defeated in straight sets by a team hovering near the top of the District 5-4A standings.
Silva’s squad needed a few extra points but pushed Nelson to a fourth set, where the Lady Broncos eventually lost. But at this point of the season, the fight Denton showed is a sign of what will be needed as the regular season winds down.
“I think how we’re playing right now is what I want to be seeing from them,” Silva said.
The Lady Broncos (14-15, 5-5 district) are in a three-way fight for the final two 5-4A playoff berths. Azle and Wichita Falls Rider also are in the mix for two of the three positions.
Last season, Denton finished third in the district. The Lady Broncos defeated Saginaw in the bi-district round of the Class 4A playoffs before losing in straight sets to Aledo. Aledo lost to Lucas Lovejoy in the Class 4A state final.
One of the key pieces of last season’s postseason is junior outside hitter Jade Akins. Akins has been in and out of the lineup this season because of injuries and returned to the lineup in time for Denton’s district opener against Rider.
Akins, Kenzie Dozier and Hannah Altman — the team’s captains — all were a part of last season’s playoff stretch and are key players pushing the team to possibly exceed last season’s finish.
“Winning the first round was huge for us, and having experience of playing in the second round — and yeah we lost, but still having that experience and playing a tough team like Aledo — that’s definitely going to help us,” Silva said.
But, Denton still has to clinch a playoff berth before postseason talk can begin. The Lady Broncos need to win three of their remaining four matches to escape a tight playoff race with a coveted berth.
The Denton head coach said her team is aware of what is needed in the final weeks of the regular season.
“It’s really important,” Silva said. “It’s either playoffs or no playoffs, and they know that and they know how important that is. We’re working in practice to handle that pressure and handle that stress, because we are a younger team as far as age and as far as experience on varsity.”
Sanger looking to clinch
After Sanger finished last season with a victory over Bridgeport, the Lady Indians realized that was as far as their season was going. A phone call from a parent informed the team that Krum clinched District 9-3A’s final playoff berth, bouncing Sanger from the postseason.
When the season ends this year, the Lady Indians should be celebrating if everything goes according to plan.
Sanger (24-9, 3-2) can clinch a playoff berth with a win against Gainesville on Friday night.
“They’re extremely motivated,” Sanger coach Tammy Niemczyk said of her squad. “That’s been our goal all year.”
Sanger opened the second half of its district schedule with a loss to Decatur, one of 3A’s strongest teams. Despite losing in three sets, Niemczyk said her team was vastly improved from the teams’ first meeting.
“We started off in our first scrimmage kind of rough,” Niemczyk said. “We weren’t playing together, and we had some losses early in the season that we shouldn’t have lost. So I think they’ve cleaned a lot of that stuff up and they’re extremely focused.”
Niemczyk said her squad was upset when it heard about missing the playoffs last season. This year, she said, the team is determined to make sure its lone senior, middle blocker Kayla Askey, experiences a playoff run.
“This year we have one senior on the team, and I know they want to give that senior an opportunity to go to the playoffs because she’s never been,” Niemczyk said.
Lake Dallas building toward future
Lake Dallas coach Heather Van Noy knew what was next for her team following Tuesday night’s loss to Azle.
For a second straight season, the Lady Falcons (9-24, 2-9) were going to miss the postseason. Tuesday night’s loss clinched a definite end for this season’s group, but it also ushered in thoughts of the future.
“I’m very excited,” Van Noy said. “The fact of the matter is these young kids, they’re straight volleyball kids, so they’re mine for the entire offseason. They’re my kids, so I’m going to have them for the next nine months.
“I hate to think about the offseason right now, but it’s promising knowing that I’m going to have them for a whole year under my belt before we play again. They’re all starting on varsity right now.”
The last time Lake Dallas reached the postseason, the Lady Falcons were bounced from the playoffs in the 2011 Class 4A Region I quarterfinals by Dumas. Van Noy said she’s going to focus on building the strength of the youth on the team’s roster in hopes of making a return to the postseason soon.
“The freshmen are doing very well,” Van Noy said. “The sophomores are stepping up, so I’m going to continue working with them and focusing on their certain positions and where I see them in the future.”