BANGS — Highs and lows often come with the territory in the opening contests of any sports season, and Tuesday’s first two volleyball matches for the Bangs Lady Dragons proved to be no exception.
After letting what could have been a season-opening win slip away from them in a four-set loss to the Santa Anna Lady Mountaineers, the Lady Dragons rebounded with a four-set victory over the Veribest Lady Falcons to wrap up a dual match at the Bangs High School gym.
“The last game we started talking and everything started coming together,” said Bangs second-year head coach Meredyth Meador. “We finished a lot stronger the second match than we did the first match.
“We just have to keep working on the fundamentals. We were attacking the ball, I liked the way we were hitting the ball today. But our serving was pretty weak today and we were falling down on our coverage. We’ve got to come in and we’ve got to cover.”
The turning point in Bangs’ 25-21, 10-25, 25-21, 26-24 victory over Veribest came during the third set. The Lady Dragons had just been hammered by 15 points in the previous set and witnessed a 15-5 lead vanish as the Lady Falcons clawed back to seize a 20-18 edge.
But the Lady Dragons displayed their resiliency as a service ace by Drea Evers allowed Bangs to pull even at 20-all, then a kill from Jobi Roberts gave the Lady Dragons a 21-20 advantage.
Tied at 21-all, Bangs made the most of an errant Veribest serve which pushed the Lady Dragons back in front, 22-21. Beth Mullins chalked up a kill, the Lady Falcons botched the next serve and Keirstin Williams then delivered an ace to end the set.
In the final set, Bangs jumped out to an 18-11 cushion before Veribest closed the gap to 20-19. Leading 22-21, Bangs was the recipient of a four-touch call on the Lady Falcons, then a tip from Taylor Vasquez increased the lead to 24-21. Veribest pulled even at 24 before a service error set the table for Mullins’ ace, which ended the match.
“We just woke up and the girls didn’t get down on themselves quite as much the second match,” Meador said. “We just talked about when you make a mistake, blow it off and don’t dwell on it. The girls did that and were able to overcome the little mistakes and I’m proud of them for that.”
Against Santa Anna, getting started wasn’t a problem for the Lady Dragons, it was finishing that resulted in a 14-25, 27-25, 25-23, 25-22 victory for the Lady Mountaineers. Bangs owned leads of at least five points in each set, but was outscored a combined 42-21 down the stretch of the last three.
Leading 17-14 in the first set, a tip by Vasquez began a run of eight straight points to end the match for the Lady Dragons. Williams chipped in a pair of aces during the surge, while Santa Anna unforced errors resulted in the rest of Bangs points.
In the second set, Santa Anna outscored Bangs 13-8 down the stretch to even the match at one set apiece. The Lady Dragons led 19-14 before the Lady Mountaineers drew even at 21-all.
Bangs retook a 25-24 lead on a kill by Kelsey Laird, but a service error knotted the score at 25 and gave the momentum back to Santa Anna. A kill by Peyton Morris pushed Santa Anna ahead, 26-25, then an unforced hitting error against Bangs ended the set.
The Lady Dragons raced out to a 16-9 lead in the third set only to witness Santa Anna tally 16 of the final 23 points. A 9-1 Santa Anna run ended with a tip by Sarah Herrod, which gave the Lady Mountaineers an 18-17 lead. The two teams went back and forth until a Morris tip gave Santa Anna a 24-23 edge, and Bangs was whistled for a four-touch call to conclude the set.
In the finale, Bangs again established a comfortable lead — 12-7 — before Santa Anna evened the score at 14-all. Kills from Morris and Loren Pritchard staked the Lady Mountaineers to a 17-15 lead, but Bangs was able to fight back and knot the score at 20-all on an Evers kill.
Trailing 22-21, Santa Anna received a kill from Heather McMullan that evened the score and triggered a run of four straight Lady Mountaineer points that finished off the Lady Dragons.
“We have to keep the momentum, that’s very important,” Meador said. “The girls know we need to get on top, but then we need to stay on top. We kind of collapsed at times, but we just have to get on top and finish. We can’t give it back to them.”
The Lady Dragons (1-1) will return to action at 10 a.m. Tuesday when they host Breckenridge and Gorman in another dual match.