EARLY— Fresh off their 2-1 showing at the Albany volleyball tournament this past Saturday, the Early Lady Horns put away the Zephyr Lady Bulldogs in three sets Tuesday (25-17, 25-7, 25-9).
Later in the evening, the Lady Horns concluded their dual match with a five-set triumph over Lingleville (8-25, 25-20, 18-25, 25-21, 25-13) to run their season record to 4-2.
In Tuesday’s opener, after a contentious game one, the Lady Horns settled in and took advantage of their size at the net and Zephyr’s struggles with serve-receive to cruise to victory in games two and three.
“We control our own destiny. It’s not what they do. It’s what we do,” Early volleyball coach Natalie Whitewood said. “We do not know how to put teams away or, as Coach (Blake) Sandford would say work the cut. We can cut somebody, but we don’t know how to work it. Once they learn how to do that together, we’re going to be unstoppable but we still don’t have that yet.”
Despite coming into game one admittedly intimidated by a physically larger 3A program, the Lady Bulldogs stood their ground early, trading point for point with the Lady Horns until a kill by Early outside hitter Taylor Summers and a pair of aces by fellow outside hitter Trinity Tomlinson allowed the Lady Horns to pull away.
“We didn’t change anything. We just started playing the way we know how to play,” Whitewood said. “We didn’t miss serves. We didn’t make very many mistakes. I told them, ‘I like teams like this, where we have to bump, set and kill it over and not give them a chance.’”
After game one, Early clamped down on its mistakes while Zephyr’s struggles with the serve-receive began to emerge. Three consecutive net violations prompted first-year Zephyr coach Kenzie Krause to call a time out but the serve-receive woes continued as Early setter Emma Loven pitted four consecutive aces on the heels of a kill by middle blocker Ellie Ryan.
“[Early] got in their heads and they were scared of facing a 3A team,” Krause said. “Our biggest fault was we were beating ourselves. I think we could have won it and I was proud of them. We will work on it a lot more in practice, getting them behind the serve more, and serve-receiving more at practice. They were really intimidated by a bigger school and the tall girls.”
It was all Early from there as the Lady Horns would continue adding point after point until taking match-point 25-7. Game three nearly mirrored game two as Early would take the match 3-0 with a 25-9 win.
Although proud of the wins Tuesday night, the next step for the Lady Horns is developing consistency and Gober said the only way to do that is more games and a lot more practice.
“We just have to practice hard and make smart choices,” Gober said.
In other Brown County volleyball action Tuesday, Bangs (1-3) fell to Breckenridge in straight sets (25-20, 28-26, 25-18).