The Clear Falls Knights did something that no one else in Deer Park’s district managed to do Tuesday night at Phillips Field House in Pasadena.
The Knights (26-9) took down the Deer Park Lady Deer (26-11) in three sets, winning by scores of 25-20, 25-20 and 25-19 in the Region III-6A quarterfinals.
Deer Park came in on a 17-game winning streak, which included a spotless 14-0 run in District 22-6A play.
It was also the first time since district play started that Deer Park had lost more than one set in a match.
“I’m just so proud of our girls,” said Clear Falls head coach Lyndsay Hodges. “We have players who were freshmen the year that we went to state. This is something that they’ve had their eyes on since then. They wanted to get back. They have a great team behind them and they all worked together.”
The Knights didn’t trail in the first set to help set the tone for the rest of the night.
“We didn’t have a choice,” Hodges said. “We couldn’t start out slow. We couldn’t give them any room. They’re one of those teams that has a great defense and can be hard to stop once they get going.”
Clear Falls began the night on a 6-1 run in the first set.
The Knights extended their lead to 17-10, but Deer Park went on a 7-1 run before the Knights took a timeout.
Errors by the Lady Deer allowed the Knights to take a four-point lead and Clear Falls didn’t look back in the first set.
Deer Park began the second set on a stronger note, going on a 4-1 run.
While Clear Falls quickly snapped back in, Deer Park outpaced the Knights, 8-7, to keep in front.
Anita Parrott’s kill helped the Knights narrow their deficit to two points.
Jordan Dortch’s point came on a 3-1 Clear Falls run to make it a one-point game.
A kill by Brianna Daphnis put the Knights on the start of a 3-0 run and a 17-15 lead.
Trailing 21-17, Deer Park took a timeout, but it did little to slow down the Knights’ momentum as Clear Falls closed out the set and took a 2-0 lead for the night.
“Being down 2-0, we had never been in that situation before,” said Deer Park head coach Cortni Cox. “So, I think starting over and knowing that the game wasn’t over and to keep fighting was good for our kids.”
Needing only one more win, the Knights started the third set on a 3-1 run, capped by a kill by Briana Garcia before Deer Park scored two unanswered points.
A block by the Knights set them on a 2-0 run for a 7-5 advantage.
McKenzie Morvant’s point came in the middle of a 5-1 run for Deer Park.
But once again, the Knights had a quick response, going on a 5-0 surge.
After another kill by Daphnis, the Knights found themselves in front, 15-12, and Deer Park had trouble trying to find an answer.
“We were connecting well with our setters,” Hodges said. “Our setters were making great choices and the hitters were trusting and were ready to hit. Our blocking was great and we were able to adjust well throughout.”
Clear Falls sat on the right end of a six-point game and held off Deer Park to advance.
“Just to beat Deer Park in three sets is a proud moment,” Hodges said. “I know coach Cox and I know those players. We were at camp together. They let nothing hit the floor. For my girls to step up and play that way was awesome, and to do it in three sets is great.”
It was the first time in five years that Deer Park had advanced to the regional quarterfinal round.
“I think our kids came out and played hard,” Cox said. “We don’t have one player that we go to. We rely on everybody and our team fought hard and never gave up.”
Daphnis had 12 kills for Clear Falls while Garcia and Parrott each had 10. Mia Johnson finished with nine kills.
Phoebe Stigen had nine kills to lead Deer Park while Hope Hawthorne had seven. Courtney Plocheck had five kills and Hannah Baker finished with four kills.
The Knights will play against Cinco Ranch in the regional semifinal at 7 p.m. Friday at Wheeler Field House.