China Spring volleyball won easily in Glen Rose last year, but Friday night the host Lady Cougars had a tougher time securing a victory.
Although Glen Rose did lose in four games – 20-25, 24-26, 25-22 and 18-25 – the Lady Tigers led in a substantial portion of all four.
“Little things here and there went a long way to deciding this match,” said coach Laura Korenek. “That’s a regional playoff team from last year, so it’s good for us to be able to compete with them. It’s good experience and we know what we have to be working for towards the end of the year.”
On the way to 18-18 in game one, sophomore Olivia Banz was on her game with two kills, two blocks and an ace.
“Olivia did great with her blocking, hitting, serving and she played all the way around for the first time,” Korenek said. “We need that from her.”
Kayla Goebel had a couple of kills along the way and freshman Sophie Bozarth added a back-row kill.
All of the sudden, China Spring took control to finish game one on a 7-2 run.
“I feel like it came down to some things we didn’t do, not what they made us do,” Korenek said. “Simple ball handling errors were the main difference.”
Glen Rose had an even better opportunity to win game two. On the way to 15-15, Banz (3 kills) and Goebel (2 kills) were playing well. China Spring had a lot of success placing tips over the top of Glen Rose block attempts.
“That’s what we talked about in between games and during timeouts,” Korenek said. “We have to get those tips (back) up. That’s where they’re getting all their points from.”
Over a seven-point stretch, Kelsey Potter left the game after appearing to reinjure her ankle only to return. While she was out, Glen Rose went from trailing by two to leading by two.
“The girls did good when Kelsey came out,” Korenek said. “For her to go down again, I can only imagine what they were thinking. They stayed calm and played well.”
Glen Rose continued to go toe-to-toe with the Cougars, leading 19-16 and then 24-23. Goebel (2 kills) and Meredith Odom (block, kill) did their best to lead the visitors. Unfortunately, China Spring completed a 9-3 run to take the game.
“Finishing those final few points is so important to us,” the coach said. “When we get a lead, we need to keep it. When you’re up by three late, you can’t let them go on a streak and tie it back up.”
Continuing to play better with each game, the Lady Tigers put it all together in game three. As Glen Rose went up 13-9, Potter (2 kills, tip) and Goebel (kill, tip, ace) were strong and Sabrina Watson added an ace.
“Sabrina played good on back row and stepped it up,” Korenek said. “She tried to communicate and made good first contacts on the ball to get us going on offense.”
As Glen Rose held its ground out to 23-10, Goebel (3 kills, block) was on fire and Bozarth (kill, dump) helped her out.
“I think the big thing in game three was we got more offense out of Kayla and more blocks from our front row,” Korenek said. “It really turned the tide and got (China Spring) out of the groove they were in.”
Over the final three points, Odom stepped up with two kills to seal the game.
“Meredith is one of those players who can get you a kill when you really need it to shut down runs,” the coach said. “Usually if we can jump on a team and hold the lead, we can finish the game off.”
As Glen Rose fought to 16-16 in game four, Potter (2 kills, 2 tips), Goebel (block, 2 kills) and Odom (tip, ace) were doing everything they could.
“Kelsey did a much better job in that fourth game of tipping and finding holes to get easy points,” Korenek said.
Sensing that Glen Rose was gaining momentum and pushing for a game five, China Spring made a stand to finish the game on a 9-2 run and end the match.
“A variety of errors cost us,” Korenek said. “You can’t do that in a tie game when a good opponent isn’t forcing (mistakes) on you. We have a couple of really tough weeks coming up versus more playoff-caliber teams like West and Brock. The challenge should help prepare us for playoffs.”