It might have been very hard to ignore the past, especially because the present and future have been so bright. But the Lady Yellow Jackets certainly aren’t dwelling on losses, rarer than recent years, these days — whether they happened last week or earlier in their high school careers.
“This group doesn’t do that,” Denison head coach Jana Kelly said. “When we have a loss, it’s about what positives can we take from it and learn to be better about.”
A senior core that has moved on from the old district alignment would have been right to hold a grudge. They had been on the wrong end of many sweeps and McKinney North happily piled up some of those victories.
It was a different Denison program the Lady Bulldogs saw when they visited on Tuesday night and the Lady Jackets returned a late favor with a 25-14, 25-15, 25-18 non-district win.
Taylor Greenameyer had 14 kills and 11 digs, Kiara Scott added 11 kills and 18 digs and Courtney Gillespie handed out 28 assists for the Lady Yellow Jackets (18-5).
It was also a good bounce-back outing from Saturday, when Denison lost against rival Sherman in the championship match of the Whitesboro Invitational.
“Finishing strong is something we work on all the time,” Kelly said. “It’s always something we focus on. That was something we didn’t do on Saturday. We’ve been known to take the first set and then the second set and then take it easy.”
The Lady Jackets cruised to a Game 1 win and then gained control in the latter stages of the final two stanzas to close out the victory. Kaylee Walters added 14 digs to pace a strong defensive effort that had the Lady Bulldogs frustrated at times.
“Our back row defense was killing it. They were all over the place,” Kelly said. “They really did a great job. That made a huge difference.”
So did the net play of Scott and Greenameyer, who alternated stretches of dominance to put Denison ahead at key moments.
“They compliment each other so well,” Kelly said. “We always have a backup plan. There’s always another option.”
Denison never trailed in Game 1 and after McKinney North tied the score at eight, the Lady Jackets went on a 7-0 run capped by a Taryn Gaines kill and a Hannah Bilderback ace for a 15-8 lead. They then closed on a 7-1 spurt.
McKinney North got kills from Courtney Camella and Vivian Murphy to spur a 5-0 run and lead 10-7 in Game 2. Denison chipped away at the deficit, pulling even at 14 before putting together its own 5-0 surge to take the lead for good.
North had a chance to force a Game 4 but was unable to hang on to its advantage. The teams split the first eight points of the third frame before the Lady Bulldogs went ahead 13-8.
The Lady Jackets responded by getting even twice, the last at 16 when Greenameyer and Scott were in the middle of the 7-1 stretch that put Denison ahead and allowed them to finish off the sweep on back-to-back kills by the two seniors.
There is one more week left in non-district play — Denison plays at Krum on Friday and hosts Aubrey Tuesday — before opening district action. And the first week of the 5-5A schedule couldn’t be any bigger for the Lady Yellow Jackets.
First up is defending district champ Denton Ryan at home and then a trip to Sherman, which has already surpassed last year’s win total.
“We’re playing well,” Kelly said. “I told them the other day in practice we have three games until district. There’s still things we can fine-tune a little bit. It’s nothing they can’t take care of and fix.”