ARGYLE — The Denton Lady Broncos won essential matches down the stretch of the second half of their district schedule and survived a seeding tournament to advance to the Class 4A playoffs for the third consecutive year under coach Danielle Silva.
In the opening, bi-district round of the playoffs Tuesday against top-seeded Saginaw Boswell, the fourth-seeded Lady Broncos showed that they weren’t going to go quietly.
However, they couldn’t recuperate from the ebbs and flows of the sets that followed, and the Lady Pioneers ended Denton’s season with a 20-25, 25-15, 25-22, 25-15 victory at Argyle High School.
“The first game, we were on fire,” Silva said. “That’s the best ball I’ve seen us play. Then, the second, third and fourth games, we couldn’t overcome when something didn’t go our way, and that’s what led to the score. They would get a kill or we would get an up, but we couldn’t overcome the negatives.”
The Lady Broncos’ offense was as smooth as it’s been all season, delivering runs of 4-0, 6-0 and 4-0 to take a 15-6 lead in the first set. The teams exchanged three-point runs before Boswell clawed back into the set with a 7-0 run, but Denton used a kill from senior outside hitter Jade Akins and a Boswell miss to close out the first set 25-20.
Akins led the team with 15 kills while adding 15 digs. Outside hitter Kenzie Dozier had 14 kills with 11 digs, while setter Hannah Altman notched 21 assists and 11 digs. Libero Emily Curtis was all over the court with 33 digs.
Boswell began the second set on a 5-0 run before a three-point burst gave it a 10-4 advantage. Back-to-back kills from setter Kody Jones brought Denton within 18-11, but the Lady Pioneers ended the set on a 4-1 run to even the match at a set apiece.
“Boswell has some pretty big hitters,” Silva said. “Clearly, they were [in] first place and we were fourth, but to me you couldn’t really tell. To me, we were playing at that high level. They had a pretty strong outside and they had a lefty-swinging freshman. They were great swingers and they were putting the ball down. My libero [Curtis] was digging them tonight, but they were definitely effective.”
The tiebreaking third set saw Boswell (37-6, 16-0 District 6-4A) take its largest lead at 18-13, but Denton arose with an 8-1 run on the back of four straight kills from Dozier to take a 21-19 lead. Then an ace by Boswell capped a 6-1 set-ending run.
A 4-1 run by Denton put it within 14-9 in the fourth set, but the Lady Pioneers were in control and ended the set on a 7-1 burst to advance to the area round.
The Lady Broncos (18-18, 8-6 District 5-4A) weren’t able to attain their goal of advancing further in the playoffs than a year ago, but this season’s team excelled with youth at its core. Silva said that is reason to be proud of this season and encouraged for next season.
“We made the playoffs, we were consistent and we played with heart,” Silva said. “I feel like that we definitely accomplished those. No, we didn’t accomplish going further — last year we won bi-district and lost in area — but I feel like next year is going to be our year. We’ve had great teams the last few years, but I’m really excited to see what these kids can do next year.”