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Collinsville eliminates Frost in four

Jason Della Rosa
Herald Democrat
Collinsville libero Madison Ashton dives for a dig during the Lady Pirates' playoff win against Frost at Community.

NEVADA — There were a lot of holes to fill in the Lady Pirates lineup at the start of the season.

Eight spots on the roster, including four senior starters, needed to be replaced from a team that won 37 matches and reached the region tournament for the first time in five years.

Stepping into those roles were a lot of freshmen and sophomores: seven combined across the two classes.

As was to be expected in the early going, there were some growing pains.

“I knew our potential,” Collinsville head coach Melissa Johnson said. “We had some roller-coasters. Looking at the big picture, the potential was there."

The Lady Pirates improved as the season went along and finished as the runner-up in 16-2A. Now after opening the playoffs with back-to-back victories, they find themselves one more win away from returning to the region tourney after Collinsville defeated Frost, 24-26, 25-13, 25-23, 25-16, in a Class 2A Region II area round match at Community.

The Lady Pirates (15-11) will face Bremond, which defeated the Lady Pirates’ districtmate Tioga, in the region quarterfinals at 6 p.m. on Thursday at Cleburne.

Taylor Sheppard, Addisyn McDonnell and Katie Johnson led Collinsville, which is in the third round for the third straight season.

“We have a young team and they had a young team,” Johnson said. "You’ve gotta prepare for everything. This right now is exciting for what we’re doing and what it means for the future."

Kyra Cerda, Lexi Banks and Payton Hollingsworth left Frost (16-9), which was aiming for its first appearance in the third round since 2015.

“We’re playing a team we know nothing about. We didn't have any video," Johnson said. "They’re coming off what is looked at as an upset against Mart and Frost got them on serves and it was evident tonight.”

Collinsville felt it let Game 1 slip away. The Lady Polar Bears didn’t lead until 11-10 on an ace by Banks and that strong service game began to a play a role. The Lady Pirates immediately responded and consecutive kills from Sheppard helped Collinsville take a 17-13 advantage.

Cerda was at the forefront of Frost trimming that deficit and eventually pulling even at 19. McDonnell had a kill as Collinsville went back in front. But it was the last time in the frame, despite four more ties, before Frost notched the final two points to claim the opener.

“We had some hiccups,” Johnson said. “Being in a neck-and-neck situation, it’s all about mental toughness.”

When the opportunity arose in Game 3, Collinsville met the challenge.

The Lady Pirates had the upper hand early — it was 11-5 on a block from McDonnell — before Frost battled back. The Lady Polar Bears were in front for the first time at 16-15 and it stayed close the rest of the way.

Frost only managed to lead on one more point at 19-18 before Collinsville regained control and was able to take 2-1 lead.

That came after the Lady Pirates evened the match with a blowout in Game 2. Jessica McAdams and Sheppard led a 7-1 run to open it and then McDonnell dominated defensively at the net as an 8-1 burst gave Collinsville a 15-6 advantage.

Sheppard notched four kills during a late 8-1 run made it 23-11 and the Lady Pirates closed it out a few points later.

Collinsville led the whole way in Game 4 by beginning with a 7-1 run. Frost managed to get within three at 12-9 but the Lady Polar Bears couldn’t get any closer.

Makayla McDonnell overpowered a block as the Lady Pirates were widening the gap to seven and they stymied Frost’s final attempt to force a deciding fifth game with a 5-0 spurt for a 23-14 advantage and a cushion to finish off the match.

Area Round

Class 2A Region II

Collinsville            3

Frost                     1