Top McKinney Sports Stories 2012 - (No. 2) Heroic Effort: Dramatic Boyd comeback falls short in five sets
By Scott White, Special to the Courier-Gazette
(Editor's Note: The McKinney Boyd volleyball team reached the state tournament for the second straight season in November. The Lady Broncos fell to New Braunfels in a thrilling five-set match. The original article appeared on Nov. 17.)
GARLAND -- McKinney Boyd's volleyball season came to an end in the state semifinals here Friday night, but not before the Lady Broncos gave fans at the Curtis Culwell Center one of the most heroic comeback attempts in state history.
Facing two match points, on the verge of being swept and playing without senior leader Megan Mollett, who had been injured in the first set, the Lady Broncos rallied in dramatic fashion to force a fifth set before falling to New Braunfels, 25-23, 25-21, 24-26, 19-25, 15-12.
"What a team with heart," said coach McKinney Boyd head coach Kelly Quinn. "(After Mollett went down) it took a little while to believe we were still in it, but I could not be more proud of this team right now. We have nothing to hang our head about."
Mollett was injured with Boyd leading 15-13 in the first when she went up for trademark kill and crashed to the floor. She didn't get up and had to be carried from the floor where trainers wrapped her knee in ice. Quinn had no news on the extent of the injury, but the senior slugger never returned, leaving the rest of the Lady Broncos to fight on without her.
And that they did.
"At first it was shock," said Krista Bukovec, "and then we realized there was no way we could stop playing."
It was Kelly Koop picking up where Mollett left off, leading Boyd's dramatic comeback including three straight aces at the end of the third set that wiped out the Lady Unicorns' match points.
"I knew we needed someone to play as if she would and play for (Mollett)," said Koop. "When I went back there (to serve in set three) I said I'm going to win this game for the seniors. I don't want their last game to be a loss."
Koop finished with 22 kills, five aces, two digs and five assists.
"The best game of her career," said Quinn. "I'm so proud of her."
Ashleigh Martin, who had her knee scoped prior to the start of the season and had only limited playing time, stepped in for Mollett and finished with 14 kills and six digs on the big stage.
Bukovec also stepped up to help fill the void and finished with 13 kills, five assists, two digs and was in on five blocks. Kaley Seaber also turned in a spectacular effort in leading the back row with 35 digs.
With Mollett gone, Parker Shepherd did a terrific job of mixing up the attack and finished with 32 assists while Tori Turck added 19.
"I just can't say enough about all the seniors," said Quinn.
With Mollett, Koop and Bukovec doing most of the damage, Boyd had built up a 15-13 lead in the first set when Mollett went down.
With Boyd players obviously a little stunned, New Braunfels jumped as Neka Cuppetilli, Katie Steel and Morrigan Land led a 7-2 run to put the Lady Unicorns up 23-20.
Koop and Martin kept Boyd within striking distance with a couple of kills each from the left, but a hitting error and a service error gave New Braunfels the set at 25-23 and a 1-0 lead.
Boyd jumped out quick in the second set as Martin, Bukovec and Koop put the Lady Broncos up 9-5. But the Unicorns answered with a 7-1 run lead, helped by five Boyd mistakes to take the lead.
A couple of kills by Lauren Petrisin, who finished with nine, put Boyd back in front briefly then Cuppetilli, Land and Steel began pounding away, slowly putting distance between them and the Lady Broncos.
Koop and Bukovec led one last run to pull Boyd within 18-19, but that's as close as they would get as Cuppetilli and Reilly took over to close out the set 25-21 and give New Braunfels a 2-0 lead.
Down, but far from out, Boyd refused to go away.
New Braunfels seemed on the way to a sweep, riding Cuppetilli and strong net play by setter Jessica Waldrip to a 17-11 lead, then it was Boyd's turn.
Martin and Shepherd led a 7-1 Bronco outburst, and just like that it was tied.
The teams traded points until Cuppetilli reeled off three straight kills to give New Barunfels two match points at 24-22 and the celebration was already starting in the New Braunfels stands.
Then it was Kelly Koop time. The 6-1 senior unloaded from the left to pull Boyd within 23-24. She then trotted back to the service line where she promptly ripped off three straight aces for a 26-24 win, pulling the Lady Broncos to 2-1 of the stunned Lady Unicorns.
The fourth set was all Boyd, which exploded to a 19-6 lead behind Koop, Petrisin and Martin. New Braunfels made a late run behind Cuppetilli and Land, but the Broncos held on to force a fifth set.
And for a moment, it looked as if they might complete the improbable comeback as Bukovec and Petrisin led the Lady Broncos to a 10-7 lead.
But Cuppetilli and Waldrip unleashed an 8-2 closing run that was finished off on a blast by Lauren Kenney as New Braunfels had survived.