IRVING — For four years, Guyer has had no one starting at setter other than Madison Walford.
For the entire 2013 regular season, Makena Stillwell was the starting setter for Guyer’s junior varsity squad and was set to be called up for the postseason, but she wasn’t expected to be a key contributor.
That all changed when Walford was injured last week in practice, forcing her to miss Friday’s seeding playoff with Trophy Club Nelson and Tuesday’s postseason opener against Fort Worth Chisholm Trail. A couple of weeks prior to that, backup setter Paetyn Peterie suffered an injury that still has her on the mend.
All Stillwell, a junior, did was tally 32 assists and three kills in her second varsity match in leading Guyer to a 25-17, 26-24, 25-21 sweep of Chisholm Trail in the Class 4A bi-district playoffs.
“I’m just really proud of her,” Guyer coach Addie Mack said of Stillwell. “She has a strong mentality that makes the girls confident in her.
“It was a tough decision to put her on JV at the beginning of the year, but I think it helped her to get to where she is now by playing every night, and now she was able to shine. She’s been strong and positive and has given us a sense of security. When Walford got hurt, we were pretty insecure for a bit, but she was great tonight.”
Mack said she hoped Walford would be able to return for Friday’s area-round match against the Burleson-Fort Worth Trimble Tech winner. Last year, Burleson eliminated Guyer from the postseason in the area round.
Guyer (31-10), the co-champion of District 5-4A and the No. 2 seed out of the district, took the first two sets against Chisholm Trail (22-23) despite a couple of rallies from the Lady Rangers.
The third set, however, was a different story.
After trailing just twice in the first two sets, Guyer found itself battling from behind for nearly the entire third set and trailed by as many as five points at 16-11, looking destined for a fourth set.
But the Lady Wildcats made a run behind the play of Sydney Reyes and Emily Hill, who had two and four kills, respectively, and ended up taking the third set to sweep the match and advance.
Reyes finished with eight kills and a team-high three blocks, while Hill led the team with 16 kills and 12 digs. Libero Mackenzie Christopher paced Guyer’s defense with 14 digs.
“I was happy with our ability to reset and refocus in timeouts in the third set,” Mack said. “We just talked about our small goals we wanted to accomplish one at a time, and we were able to get it done. The girls could’ve given up and gotten ready for another set, but these girls are mentally strong. They don’t give up.”
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872 and via Twitter at @aboedeker.