The Rolla volleyball team (1-0, 1-0 OC) hosted their newest conference foe, Springfield Central, for their season opener on Monday, Aug. 27. The Lady Bulldogs were absolutely dominant in their first set, before needing to make a comeback in the second to sweep Central 25-5, 26-24.
The first set was all Rolla. The Lady Bulldogs took the first two points of the match, before Central scored to bring the match to 2-1. After that, Rolla ripped off 14 straight points, extending their lead to 16-1 before Central could score another point. Rolla didn't slow down from there. The Lady Bulldog lead ballooned out to 20-5, before Rolla scored the final five points to take the first set. Kayla Copeland dealt the final blow with a kill to give Rolla a 25-5 win in the opening set.
The Lady Bulldogs didn't have the same control on the game in the second set. After a dominant victory to open the match, the second set was back and fourth. Rolla wasn't able to get on any sort of run in the set, as Central was determined to fight their way back into the match. Megan Brown gave Rolla a boost early with two straight aces to take a 5-3 lead, but that lead was short lived. Neither team led by more than three points for the first half of the set, but Central started to take control late in the match. After Rolla took a 7-6 lead on a block by Rebecca Janke, Central scored five straight points to take an 11-7 lead. They maintained a four or five point lead for a long stretch of the match. Central was on the verge of a victory in the set when they took a 24-20 lead late in the match, but Rolla scored two straight points to force a Central timeout. The Lady Bulldogs came out of the timeout firing on all cylinders, as Brown recorded another ace to cut the score to 24-23 in Central's favor. Rolla went on to score the final three points to complete a dramatic comeback and win the match in straight sets.
"Focus," said head coach Stephanie Pritchett on the difference between the two sets. "Focus, that's all it was. Volleyball is that type of sport where if you don't focus form beginning to end and if you're not your most aggressive from beginning to end, you'll let teams that will play more aggressive than you sneak in and that's what we did.
"It's definitely a good lesson to learn in the first game," continued the Rolla head coach. "They know that, so we'll move on."
Coach Pritchett was extremely proud of Rolla's play in the first set, but noted that her players need to pay attention to the difference between those two sets.
"That's what they need to understand is that they did it in the first set and they didn't do it in the second set," said coach Pritchett. "They won, that's all that matters in the end and so when we go on, we'll talk about what we need to do to stay focused."
While Rolla struggled with staying focused in the second set, they found it where it counts. The Lady Bulldog head coach loved what she saw out of her players as they scored the final six points in the second set.
"I'm really proud of Megan for making all those serves there at the end, that was good. And Sophie Parsons, the one who had all the serves there at the beginning," said coach Pritchett. "I'm proud of them. When you have a game like that that you still win, it's good to show them the difference between focused and not focused."
Brown was a big player for Rolla all game. She collected a team-high four service aces in the win, while adding four kills and eight digs. Parsons added three aces, while serving a team-high 17 times in the midst of Rolla's great run in the first set. She also led the team in assists with 1-, while adding two digs and a kill. Loran Pritchett played a well-rounded game with eight assists, eight digs and six kills. Shelby Ply added a team-high eight kills. Janke chipped in with a team-high nine digs, two assists, two kills and an ace.
Rolla also had success in their JV and freshmen games. The Lady Bulldogs opened the nigh with a two set sweep at the freshman level, winning 25-8, 25-14. The JV needed three sets, but pulled out the win 20-25, 25-12, 25-21.
The Lady Bulldogs have one more game this week, as they'll host Hickman on Thursday, Aug. 30.