Midland Classical senior Jenny Coco is expecting her volleyball team to get challenged in its defense of its 2018 TAPPS 3A state championship.
That was the case Saturday when Temple Central Texas Christian battled MCA in every set following a slow start. The Lady Knights, though, responded when they needed to and swept the Lady Lions, 25-13, 25-19, 25-23, in a TAPPS 3A area playoff match at the MCA gymnasium.
In the third set, Central Texas Christian was leading MCA, 23-20, before the Lady Knights (29-7) strung together five straight points to finish the match. MCA recorded its 24th point when its attack bounced off the foot of a Lady Lions front row player just inside the boundary line.
Coco recorded the match-clinching kill to propel the Lady Knights to the TAPPS 3A regional round, when they’ll face an opponent yet to be determined.
“Because we’re defending state champs, every team is out to get us,” Coco said. “It’s not going to be easy. We’re going to have to fight for it. So, every team is coming after us, so we have to be aware of and remember that for sure.”
MCA stormed to a 9-0 lead over the Lady Lions (24-17-2) in the first set. Coco recorded three aces in the first five points she served, and Marin Casey had two kills for MCA during the initial 9-0 run. However, the Lady Lions settled down after a timeout and challenged the Lady Knights throughout the rest of the match.
“The key for both teams was serve receive,” MCA head coach Amie Miller said. “Theirs picked up and ours went down, so whoever was going to win that serve receive battle was going to pull it out. We definitely needed to clean up our passing to pull it out.”
In the second set, Central Texas Christian closed the gap to 19-17 following a block and a kill from Camdyn Mirkes. But MCA turned around the momentum when Leia Beattie had a kill for the 20th point, and Coco registered a kill for the 21st point to end a long volley.
Coco then served five straight points to boost the Lady Knights to a 6-1 lead in the third set before the Lady Lions battled back to take a 16-14 advantage following two consecutive aces by Sarah McCoy. Momentum appeared to be on Central Texas Christian’s side after an MCA attack fell into the net, giving the Lady Lions a 23-20 lead. But, Kacy Miller stopped the slide for the Lady Knights with a kill for the 21st point, and MCA never looked back.
“It was just a matter of keep fighting and keep being aggressive,” Amie Miller said. “They were making runs and we would get in a panic and it just wasn’t time to panic. It was time to pick up our serves, our passing. When we picked up our passing and then we had options offensively. It was just a matter of cleaning up our side of the net. I told them not to panic and just play confidently and be aggressive.”
Added Coco: “(Coach) just told us to keep communicating and keep our energy up because they definitely had better energy than us throughout the entire game. We just kind of got down in the slumps. We weren’t ever losing bad; we just stopped playing like we know how to play.”
Beattie led MCA with 10 kills; Kenna Bayley had a team-high eight digs; Grace Coco tallied 17 assists, Casey had six blocks and Jenny Coco led with three aces.
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MIDLAND CLASSICAL DEF. TEMPLE CENTRAL TEXAS CHRISTIAN 25-13, 25-19, 25-23
Midland Classical statistics
Kills – Leia Beattie 10, Jenny Coco 9, Kenna Bayley 5, Marin Casey 4, Kacy Miller 4
Digs – Bayley 8, Beattie 6, J. Coco 4, Grace Coco 4, Miller 3
Assists – G. Coco 17, Bayley 15
Blocks – Casey 6
Aces – J. Coco 3
Records: Midland Classical 29-7; Central Texas Christian 24-17-2
Next: MCA vs. TBD, TAPPS 3A regional, TBA