The theme for this season was about gaining respect for the Plano East volleyball program.
Under the guidance of new head coach Nikki Pugh, the team did just that in its opening week.
Starting off the season on the road, Plano East beat Frisco Lebanon Trail in straight sets on Aug. 10. East took control of the match early to get a 3-0 victory, winning 25-18, 25-22 and 25-22.
The Panthers jumped out to an early 8-3 lead in set one, which coach Nikki Pugh felt the early start got the East rolling for the entire match. While the Trail Blazers battled back, the Panthers went on a six-point run to get the victory, capped off by a Tayah Little kill.
“We’ve been talking about making a statement early on and finally getting some respect put on our name,” Pugh said. “So I think the strong start to the match set the tone for our goals and allowed us to go out and get the win.”
The next two sets were much closer, with the scoring going back and forth and Lebanon Trail having leads in each set. East continued to battle and showed the ability to fight through adversity to clinch the win in straight sets.
The Panthers continued to show great fight throughout the evening, fighting off two big Trail Blazers runs in set two and three to hold them off and win in straight sets.
“Our response to adversity was great,” Pugh said. “In previous seasons we would get down on ourselves in tight situations. The girls have shown the ability to persevere and get the finishes we want.”
The win for Plano East wasn’t only the first for the season, but it was the first for Pugh as the head coach of the team. Serving as the interim coach to end last season, Pugh earned the job and has set the mentality of a winning culture in the Panthers program.
“It feels great,” Pugh said. “It feels great that we could take the match in three and it’s just awesome that we can get off to a good start.”
Plano East continued that strong start to the season at the Tournament of Champions in Duncanville on Aug. 13 and 14. The Panthers won the gold medal in the consolation bracket of the tournament, including a straight-set victory over Harker Heights on Friday 2-0 to open pool play. After finished pool play with a tie against Kennedale and a win over The Colony to earn first place in their pool.
By Kyle Grondin • [email protected]