Playing in their home opener on Thursday night, the Madison-Grant Argylls sensed a tall task ahead of them in Avery Ross and the Pendleton Heights Arabians.
However, the Argylls did not give themselves much of a chance.
A combination of uncharacteristic offensive struggles, together with a stellar, all-around effort by Pendleton Heights, proved to be the Argylls’ undoing as they were defeated by the Arabians in straight sets (10-25, 11-25, 12-25).
Madison-Grant had no answer for Ross, who finished the match with 15 kills and four aces. Hannah collected eight terminations, Gabby Ennis added six, and Olivia Wright orchestrated the offense with 29 assists to go along with three kills, two blocks, and four aces for the Arabians.
Even before the match began, Madison-Grant Head Coach Kayla Jump noticed that something was off. In most cases, a team’s warm-up session, good or bad, can determine how they will play in the contest. The Argylls lacked any sort of fluidity during their warm-up period, and it carried over into the match.
“Usually, everything flows pretty well,” Madison-Grant Head Coach Kayla Jump said. “[Tonight,] I just noticed that it just wasn’t flowing right.”
Of Madison-Grant’s 33 total points, only 11 came via their offense. The remaining 22 points came off Pendleton Heights errors and one block.
Madison-Grant never established any sort of offensive rhythm. They struggled making the first pass off the serve, and reliable hitters like Grace Holmberg, Azmae Turner, and Katie Garringer were unable to find many holes in the Arabians’ defense.
“We talked about our serve-reception and our passing, and our out-of-system balls were all over the place,” Jump said. “We knew they passed well and had some pretty good attackers. We were prepared for that, but we can’t be prepared for that and not pass [off] serve-reception. We struggled really, really bad with that.”
Pendleton Heights scored seven of the match’s first eight points and led almost the entire way. In the opening set, the Argylls did not come any closer than five points and only scored two points via their offense.
“We made a lot of mistakes with out-of-system balls, easy stuff. Stuff that we practice with every day,” Jump said. “When we couldn’t get that stuff done, I knew we were in trouble.”
The Argylls built a brief 6-5 advantage in the second set due to a few Arabian miscues, but Pendleton Heights quickly righted the ship, using a 14-3 burst to regain control of the contest. Ross recorded five straight kills during the Arabians’ run.
Madison-Grant’s play improved marginally in the final set, but the Arabians quickly shut the door, scoring 15 of the match’s final 19 points.
Tori Hiatt led the Argylls’ offense with three kills, while Gabby Rudy finished with three assists. Daya Greene led the defensive effort with nine digs.
Despite the tough result, Jump plans to use this match as a teaching tool going forward.
“We talked about things that will break us down, and things that will make us grow,” Jump said. “Mainly, it’s a mental focus right now so that we can be physically ready. We are going to rest and come back refocused. You can’t dwell on it, but you have to learn from it.”