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Lady Deer open volleyball season with revengeful win over Falls

August 8, 2018

Only time will tell what the 2018 high school volleyball season opener will mean to Deer Park in terms of the big picture.

But for the time being, the season opener simply meant that the Lady Deer didn’t forget who unceremoniously dumped the maroon and gold from the 2017 state playoffs.

The three-pronged kill leaders of Hope Hawthorne, Courtney Plocheck and McKenzie Morvant sparked the Lady Deer to a 3-1 season-opening victory over state-ranked Clear Falls at the north campus Tuesday night.

“Getting that win was a blessing. We needed that for our confidence,” Deer Park head coach Cortni Cox said.

It was Clear Falls that eliminated Deer Park from the 6A state playoffs last November, taking the third-round match in straight sets.

So for sure, knocking off the opponent that kicked you out of the playoffs sends some kind of message, especially when that opponent entered the season ranked No. 6 in the state by the Texas Girls Coaches Association.

The key to the victory was Game 4. Trailing 9-3, Clear Falls had every intention of forcing a pivotal Game 5. But Deer Park grabbed the momentum when the team went on a 13-3 rampage.

With the deficit 12-10, Makenzie Spivey held serve for five go-ahead points. Hawthorne got the ball in Spivey’s hands with a kill, making it a one-point deficit, before a Spivey sinker produced an ace and a deadlocked Game 4.

“She’s not afraid to come off the bench and go with a jump serve either, something we hadn’t seen,” Cox said.

A Mia Johnson kill sailed out of bounds, before Plocheck and Morvant scored points 14 through 16. Spivey got the assist on Plocheck’s smash that suddenly made it 16-12.

The Lady Knights would tie it at 16-16 and 17-17, but a service error, another Plocheck kill and a Falls ill-fated kill try put the team in front to stay.

Plocheck would register another kill, putting Ella Harrell at the serving line who brought home the win.

Deer Park has made a change in its personnel assignments, moving returning letterman Peyton Nance from setter to libero.

Cox calls it a huge change. And as the season progresses, it may turn out to be huge. It was a Nance dig that led to Deer Park upping a mini run to three points that got the deficit in Game 3 down to two points. At the time, it was the longest streak of Game 3.

It’s little plays like that that could mean a big difference in future matches.

The game 1 win was tight all the way. But with the lead at a shaky 19-17, Deer Park scored four of the next five points for its biggest lead at 23-18.

A Falls service error, a Morvant kill and a Plocheck kill that was set up by a sweet Morvant block secured the five-point lead.

The Lady knights would get with 23-21, but a Morvant block and kill produced the victory.

In Game 2, the lead was again only 18-17, before a run of five straight points forced a Clear Falls timeout.

Deer Park did a tremendous job of only allowing bite-size success by the Lady Knights and keeping that success scattered. But outside the start to Game 4, the only other time where it wasn’t scattered was a Game 3 stretch where Falls went on an 8-1 run for a 14-9 lead.

Deer Park would get within two down the stretch but it couldn’t quite get over the hump.

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