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Lady Panthers welcome newcomer Allen to lineup

Griff Servati,
The Van Alstyne Leader
Van Alstyne's Kylie Allen hits at the net in her return to the court after ACL surgery.

The Lady Panthers started their play into district with games against Aubrey and Anna. After their first week at the new level, the Panthers, who are 9-4 on the season, are 1-1 in district play.

The team hosted Aubrey in a back-and-forth duel, coming up on the losing end in the deciding fifth game. The two sets that the Lady Panthers won went to extra points to be decided, where the Lady Panthers won 29-27 and 30-28.

The Lady Panthers lost games two and four, setting up the deciding fifth game, where the team did not have enough energy left in the tank and lost 4-15.

The Lady Panthers traveled to Anna, where they won 3-0 against the Lady Coyotes. Leading the Lady Panthers in victory were Valerie Young, who had eight kills, and Samantha Moore added eight kills, three blocks.

At the start of the district play, the Panthers added senior front-row player Kylie Allen to the lineup. Allen, who moved to Van Alstyne from Virginia, has not been able to play due to an ACL tear playing basketball during her junior year.

Allen, who attended nine different schools throughout her academic career, frequently moved as her dad served in the Air Force. In transitioning to a new school, sports have been her way of making connections and establishing friendships.

The teen spoke of the transition with being on the team but not on the court.

"It was extremely difficult to move to a new school and not be able to play. Every time I move, volleyball is how I've met people and made friends. Not being able to play made it even more difficult to make friends at first,“ she said.

The first six weeks of the new school's volleyball season, Allen found herself cheering on her new teammates while finishing up rehab. "I was very determined to be able to play by the time district started. I was extremely dedicated to working out and getting my knee better."

In talking to her father, Ron Allen, before Kylie Allen’s first game back against Aubrey, he said, "I am a nervous wreck. I believe in her, but when you walk this road, you have to be cautious".

Kylie Allen said she feels about 90 percent back to her pre-injury condition knowing that there are two areas of recovery, physical and mental. "The only thing I would say that is different from before the injury is that I'm slower. I also believe I still have a mental battle to overcome to trust my knee again."

The teen went out in the game and contributed to her team with eight kills, four digs, and one block.

After the game, she said, "I was nervous about playing. I didn't want to make mistakes since it was the first time everybody would be seeing me play. I also wanted to prove to myself that I could make it through that difficult time and come out on the other side victorious. Even though I was nervous, it was also extremely exciting and rewarding to play again."

The Lady Panthers will host Gainesville on Sept. 18. The schedule had the game away, but it was moved to Van Alstyne.

Kylie Allen celebrates with her new Van Alstyne teammates on her first night on the court.