Today will be the most important volleyball match of the year

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Seniors Kelly McKinzey (#100, Payton Walker (#3), Hallie Supak (#14), Sarah Philpott (#11), Jaycie Pluenneke (#15), Peyton Redmond (#5), Jill Green (#2), Bri Hillman (#12) and Kaley Nelson (#17) are ready to lead the team into its first state tournament today in Garland. (Kathy Canady Photo)

Seniors Kelly McKinzey (#10), Payton Walker (#3), Hallie Supak (#14), Sarah Philpott (#11), Jaycie Pluenneke (#15), Peyton Redmond (#5), Jill Green (#2), Bri Hillman (#12) and Kaley Nelson (#17) are ready to lead the team into its first state tournament today in Garland. (Kathy Canady Photo)

By SEAN SHAPIRO

The ultimate goal is to win on Saturday, but Liberty Hill isn’t looking past Argyle in the semifinal.

“We’re taking it one game at a time right now,” Liberty Hill coach Gretchen Petersen said. “That’s how you have to take it this time of year.”

It’s worked so far.

The Panthers are in the UIL State Tournament for the first time in program history after winning the Class 4A, Region IV tournament – which may have provided a blue print for beating Argyle.

In the regional tournament, Liberty Hill figured out the formula to contain and control Fredericksburg’s dangerous middle hitters, which was a key area of concern entering the match. Petersen said Argyle, which is 38-7 this season, poses similar problems.

“We have to watch their middle, just like that Fredericksburg match,” Petersen said. “The key there is to limit that and force outside options, which I think we can then use to exploit them.”

Liberty Hill will also want to play quickly. The Panthers have been at their best when they’re quickly returning attacks, not allowing opposing setters to run a controlled offense.

Petersen said it’s “still volleyball,” but it’s also important that the team get acclimated to the environment before stepping on the court at 3 p.m. Friday.

The Panthers traveled to Garland Thursday, got in a workout, then watched the Class 5A semifinal matches that evening.

“That’ll get a feel for the venue and what to expect,” Petersen said earlier this week. “You don’t want the first experience to be on the first serve.”

Petersen said the team had the opportunity to sleep in today (Friday), and focus on Argyle while the coaches were to scout the match between Decatur and Robinson.

If everything goes as planned, Liberty Hill will then turn its attention to hoisting the trophy Saturday.

“Remember, it’s still just one match at a time,” Petersen said. “We knows what lies on Saturday, but Friday is the most important match of the year right now.”

See More about LHHS Senior Lady Panthers.

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