After one set of action at Mount Gilead, it looked like Cardington would cruise to an easy volleyball victory over the Indians.
Mount Gilead had different plans, though. While the Pirates wound up winning the match in four games, it wound up being a much tougher task than the first one indicated. Final scores were 25-3, 21-25, 25-17 and 25-13.
“We just kind of didn’t care a whole lot in the second and third sets,” said Cardington coach Ryan Treese. “We won the first set 25-3 and just thought we were going to win.”
That set was over with quickly. A pair of points served by Liz Long gave the Pirates an early lead and Lexie Mellenger scored 12 in a row to make it 15-1. Four points by Kyleigh Bonnette and four more from Maggie Wade, as well as a pair of defensive scores, put an end to the game.
MG didn’t waste any time showing that things would be different in the second game. Grace Mowery opened with two points and, with the Indians holding a 5-4 lead, Candace Millisor added three in a row.
Cardington would get points from Long and Wade to get within a 15-13 margin, but a defensive point followed by two from Riley McCoy allowed the Indians to open up a five-point advantage. That lead wouldn’t fall to lower than a two-point margin over the rest of the set, allowing MG to knot the match at one game each.
“The kids just got excited,” said Indian coach Megan Oder. “They realized they had to step up their effort and did. It was just a great team effort.”
Oder added that with an overall inexperienced team after graduating a large senior class from last year’s squad, it’s important for her players to learn from moments like that first set.
“We definitely learned from it,” she said. “It was a great learning experience for the kids. That’s our goal — when we make a mistake, to learn from it and grow.”
Treese felt that when Mount Gilead struck back in the second, his players didn’t respond.
“We were shell-shocked in the second set,” he said. “In the first, everything we did was clean and crisp. In the second set, we just thought we could get by.”
The Pirates did respond with a fast start to the third set, getting two points from Long and three from Mellenger in opening up a 6-1 lead. However, MG fired back with one from Ella Fraizer and three from Abbie Van Houten to tie things at seven.
Cardington got a defensive point and four in a row by Wade to take a 12-7 lead. Despite getting three points from Millisor, Mount Gilead would not be able to erase the Cardington lead, as the Pirates were able to pull away to win by a 25-17 margin.
Cardington would take that momentum into the fourth, opening with a defensive points and five successful serves by Long to score the first six points of the game. Two by Bonnette increased their lead to a 10-2 margin and with the score 14-8, Long added three more points. Three more from Bonnette and two from Wade helped send the team to the win, improving them to 6-1 in league play at the midway point of the KMAC season.
Treese noted that one thing his players will have to get used to now is a slower pace to the season after playing a lot of games over the past couple weeks.
“We had these three matches in three days or four in a week situations,” he said. “Now the season is going to drag a little bit.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS