Early in the first game of their Tuesday night home match against Mount Gilead, the Cardington volleyball team found themselves locked in a close match.
However, they would finish the first game decisively and then moved on to take the next two, winning their outing by a 25-12, 25-14, 25-10 margin.
In that first game, the Indians matched Cardington point-for-point in the early going with the score tied at 9-9 before a defensive stop gave the Pirates a lead they would not relinquish. Kayleigh Ufferman served for two points and then Izzy Wickline tallied 11 straight on her serve to turn a deadlocked game into a 24-10 lead for Cardington.
“We’ve been in seven games in a row that we’ve won in three sets,” said Pirate coach Ryan Treese. “The last six games have just dragged and that might be why we started slow. When we go on a run, it’s because of our serving more than our hitting.”
Mount Gilead would get a defensive point followed by a serve for a score from Maddie Mathwig, but wouldn’t be able to score again in the first game. The Indians then started off the second game by taking a 3-1 lead due to a pair of defensive points and one scored off the serve of Grace Mowery, but Cardington would go on another run.
This time, Kyleigh Bonnette scored five quick points and Hannah Wickline added two, boosting their team to a 10-4 advantage. MG assistant coach Megan Oder said that, in order to prevent long scoring runs by opponents, the Indians must focus on getting good serve receptions.
“We talk about focusing on first contact,” she said. “We need to communicate a little better and focus on first contact.”
Jessica Brewer scored once for the Indians, but Cardington responded with three points by Liz Long. A defensive stop and two points by Nora Kelty got MG within a 14-9 margin, but the Pirates regained possession and got three points by Ufferman to widen their lead to a nine-point difference as they went on to take a 25-14 decision.
Cardington got out to a quick start in the third game, as Audrey Brininger scored five points and Izzy Wickline added four to stake the Pirates to a 12-3 advantage. Brewer tallied three points for the Indians, but Cardington responded with two from Maddie Linkous and five from Cadie Long as they pulled away for the win.
With a mixture of veterans and talented freshmen, Treese feels his team is getting closer to playing as a cohesive unit, but still has some work to do.
“In the third set, we were just clicking because we had six freshmen out there together,” he said. “We’re right on the cusp of clicking, but they’re scared to get on each other. Once they get going, we’re rolling.”
Mount Gilead is looking forward to the second half of the KMAC slate of matches.
“We’re just starting over in the KMAC,” said head coach Tammie Masters. “We’re going to Danville Thursday. The girls are still coming together and their attitudes are great.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS