Brynne Wright finished the first set with an emphatic kill and Vandegrift never looked back.
After a back and forth opening set, the Vipers pulled away in the final two frames to sweep McNeil 3-0 (28-26, 25-17, 25-21) Tuesday night and move into a tie for first place early on in District 13-6A play.
“I think we realized after the first set that although we were working very hard for every point, we were getting a little too comfortable,” Wright said. “We knew they were going to come back and battle.”
Wright led the Vipers with 14 kills, junior Delaney Dilfer had a team-high 36 assists, Egadi Santos finished with 15 digs, Lauren Stevens finished with three aces and Annie Stadthaus had 1.5 blocks.
Lena Duncan led McNeil with 14 kills and 1.5 blocks, Erin Flood had six digs, Sam Perez led the Mavericks with 13 assists while Maya Barton had one ace.
“Vandegrift really stepped up their play and decided they were going to go out and be aggressive towards us int eps second set, and we couldn’t adjust to it the way that we wanted to,” McNeil head coach Kate Kennedy said.
Vandegrift got out to an early lead but McNeil fought back to tie the opening set at 12 points apiece. McNeil took a one-point lead and had set point at 24-23, but the Vipers fought back to tie things up three times before winning the set.
“That originates from our practices,” Dilfer said. “We’re all about our side and working on us. We work so hard to be the team that we are and we’re going to prove that on the court. We’re not going to play down to anyone’s level, we’re going to play up to ours.”
Vandegrift got out to another lead in the second set and the Mavericks came back to get within two points. But the Vipers won 11 of the final 22 points to take a two-set lead.
The Vipers continued to hold the momentum into the third set, rushing out a 13-4 lead. They continued to push and got the lead out to 22-14 before McNeil pulled things back by winning six of eight points to pull within four. But the rally didn’t happen soon enough for the Mavericks.
“We just need to focus on ourselves and what we can do to improve and step up our game to the level of competition,” Kennedy said.
Vandegrift has now won four straight matches and 12 of the 14 sets they’ve played since opening district play with a straight-set loss on the road against Vista Ridge.
“We really have the mindset that we need to push for every point we play no matter what team we’re playing or what their past record is,” Wright said. “We really have to focus on our side and not worry about who’s on the other side.”
The Vipers have back-to-back home games, beginning this Friday night when they host Cedar Ridge at 6:30 p.m. and continuing next Tuesday against Westwood. McNeil hosts Vista Ridge Friday at 6:30 p.m. and travels to face Leander next Tuesday night.
“Since the beginning of district, we all wanted it,” Dilfer said. “But after that first game, we had to show that we wanted it. Whether it was sprints in practices or whatever, we were showing and giving all our effort.”