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Both the Lone Tree and Highland volleyball teams were on hand Saturday as area teams converged for a tournament hosted by West Branch High School. Their days mirrored each other throughout as both teams went 0-4 on the day.
Both teams came up against tough opening opponents in West Branch for Lone Tree and Regina for Highland, resulting in two set losses. The Lady Lions fell 21-11, 21-13 while Highland lost 21-17, 21-6.
“It seemed like we came out of the gates pretty well,” Lone Tree co-head coach Laura Sieverding said. “Sometimes it seems like we have a problem with that and we’re not really in it.”
“We just don’t have the height to match with something like that.”
Fellow co-head coach Sondra Prybil added that a lot of things are in flux and the team is still working on their defensive arrangement.
The second match for each, resulted in a three set loss. The Lady Lions bounced back from a 21-11 first set loss to Winfield-Mount Union to win a back-and-forth second set by a score of 21-16.
“I think we finally started to feel comfortable,” Prybil said. “It started to feel like, ‘Okay, this is what we need to be doing.’ We started to do some of the little things. We started to play smart.”
The third set came down to a few crucial errors. Down one point on two separate occasions, Lone Tree failed to take advantage of their serves by putting two straight into the net. They also had a double hit and the final point was won by Winfield-Mount Union after an error by Lone Tree.
“That really comes down to discipline, the tiny things that you need to clean up so you don’t get to situations like that,” Sieverding said.
Highland came out strong against Don Bosco, before slowing and holding on for a win in set one. After jumping out to a 10-2 lead, they won 21-17.
“I think we had some great offense. Our passes were good and our setters had some really good sets. We also kept the ball in on service,” Highland co-head coach Carrie Wieland said.
In the second set, it was a back-and-forth affair, with Highland leading as late as 14-12, before dropping the set 21-16, then the third 15-5.
Highland then lost their last pool game (21-15, 21-15) and got a preview for Thursday’s match at Winfield-Mount Union, dropping a three-setter (25-22, 17-25, 15-10).
“We now know how to defend their hitters and keep our feet moving and play defense,” she said.
Wieland was happy with how her team handled the tough draw, despite a lack of wins.
“Our bracket was very strong. All three teams where good quality teams. We were happy with our play as a team today. We learned that we need to get more blocks and fill the hole in the middle,” Wieland said. “I think Murphy (Beinhart) really stepped up and worked hard so that we were not leaving the middle wide open.”
Wieland said the team will focus on their service game and better at receiving serves during practice, while she also said the coaches will be preaching to their athletes to keep composure on the court, so opponents won’t see bad body language.
Lone Tree dropped their last pool game (21-6, 21-4) before losing to No. 13 Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont (25-11, 25-14). The coaches are still looking for consistency on the court, and a big part of that is having a leader step up on the court.
“We’re still looking for some positions players, people to step up, take control. We need a leader on the court that really knows what needs to happen and convey that to the team,” Prybil said.
Sieverding said the focus will be on improving serving and passing to better set up players for kills and to put away points when they have the opportunity.
Highland takes the court next Aug. 31 at WMU, and Lone Tree will get another chance at Montezuma Aug. 29.