To Truman coach Denise Craig, volleyball comes down to receiving serves and passing. And to Craig, the Patriots didn’t do either of those things well enough Thursday night against visiting Park Hill South.
“You can do something with it when the ball’s in the air,” Craig said after the Patriots’ 25-19, 25-23 Suburban Middle Six defeat. “You can’t ... if it goes on the ground.”
Specifically, the Patriots (14-5-1 overall, 2-2 league) struggled with receiving serves during the first game, Craig said. Craig’s counterpart, Debbie Fay, said the Panthers “didn’t serve receive very well” either game and that “Truman had something to do with that.”
“They’re aggressive servers,” she said.
However, Patriots outside hitter Bri Savidge suggested that serving also was an issue for Truman Thursday. Moving ahead, the Patriots have “some little, tiny” things to fix, Savidge said.
One of those is eliminating missed serves, Savidge said. Serve receive is the other.
An area that might not require as much focus is blocking. One reason the Patriots played the Panthers (18-1) closer in the second game than the first was their “phenomenal” blocking, Savidge said.
That helped the Patriots take the lead briefly during the second game. Trailing 14-8, they launched an 11-2 run.
Often, sophomore outside hitter and middle hitter Lexi Hart teamed up with senior outside hitter and setter Becca Jonas to form a blocking wall. Jonas attributed the twosome’s success at blocking shots to “reading their hits.”
“They were often hitting off of the net, so we just waited,” said Jonas, who had two solo blocks and a block assist overall. “And we were communicating as we were going up. We kept our hands tight and just put it down.”
Hart, on the other hand, attributed it to a mid-game epiphany.
“We realized that we weren’t closing it (hitting space) — and then, we realized that we should close it,” said Hart, who led the Patriots with three solo blocks and one block assist and had 11 total kills. “And then, we did pretty well.”
But Craig attributed Truman’s run partly to winning a long rally.
“I could feel the energy just coming off the floor,” she said.
Another factor was Allie Webb’s serves. The senior outside and middle hitter led the Patriots with 13 total serving attempts.
“Allie Webb did a great job keeping us in the ballgame,” Craig said.
Still, the Hart-Jonas blocking tandem, team emotion and Webb’s serving couldn’t prevent the Panthers from outscoring the Patriots 8-4 down the stretch to clinch the second game and the sweep.
With the first of Truman’s two conference meetings with South out of the way, the Patriots will look at the video from Thursday to see what they must correct before Monday, when they host North Kansas City, Craig said.
“Hopefully, we can tweak one or two things and just make it better on Monday,” she said.