What started out as 19th-ranked Guyer shooting itself in the foot and making the first set against McKinney more difficult than it needed to be turned out to be a straight-set sweep (25-23, 25-16, 25-16) and a joyous moment on the court Tuesday night.
Guyer (16-9, 6-1 in District 5-6A), the 19th-ranked team in the Texas Girls Coaches Association poll, came into the match winners of four won four straight games, losing only three sets during that span, and having won five of its last six outings — all district contests.
But Tuesday’s game started out sluggish for the Wildcats, who found themselves in an early 3-1 hole to begin a first set that saw neither team hold more than a four-point lead.
Fifteen of McKinney’s points in the frame came off 15 Guyer errors — service errors, ball-handling errors, return service errors or net violations. Despite the sluggish start, Guyer was able to string some points together and claim the first set.
For Wildcats coach Leslie Jackson, what got her team going in the right direction was getting the serves in bounds. Two of McKinney’s first three points came on service errors.
“With good teams — or any team, really — if you make a lot of service errors, you’re not going to win,” Jackson said. “When we started to serve the ball on the court, it was better for us.”
The second set started with Guyer jumping out to a 4-1 lead on the strength of three McKinney errors and block by London Hunt.
Guyer kept up the momentum in the frame, extending the lead to as many as 10 after a Kyndal Stowers kill made it 18-8.
McKinney (13-17, 1-6) tried to make a bit of a rally by scoring five of the next seven points, but another Stowers kill promptly ended any comeback bid in Set 2.
The third set started out close like the first set as the two teams played to three ties in the first 10 points of the frame with Stowers netting three kills early.
After a 5-5 tie, it was all Guyer and all about Stowers, who was sitting on 998 kills. Stowers broke the tie with her fourth kill of the frame to get to 999. Guyer began to pull away as setter Ava Houser and Drew Bridges were trying to set up the perfect pass for No. 1,000.
With the set all but in hand and a straight-set sweep becoming more real with Guyer leading 16-9, Houser set up Stowers for one of her best kills of the night, allowing Stowers to become the latest Wildcat to break the 1,000th career kill mark.
It prompted a celebration on the court among all the players, a video message congratulating Stowers on the accomplishment and a roar from the crowd. After the match, balloons, treats and group photos continued the celebration.
“She’s such a great leader for the kids, and all the girls are happy for her that she hit her 1,000th kill,” Jackson said. “This is all about her, and her career here and what’s she done for the last three years. I’m really happy for her.”
Stowers finished with a team-high 16 kills and 12 digs on the night and was helped on the offensive front by Gracey Campbell’s 10 kills and 11 digs. Regan Nash added eight kills and Lauren Schneider had five.
Guyer will look to avenge its only district loss when it goes on the road to play McKinney Boyd.