Hawks overwhelmed in league opener
When Mid-Prairie junior Taylor Kurtz scored back-to-back kills for a 2-1 lead of the opening game with West Liberty, it looked as if her team was in for a good night.
The ending couldn't have had a more stark contrast, Thursday, as the Comets won the third game 25-13 for a clean 3-0 sweep.
It was Mid-Prairie's home opener and the first River Valley conference game of the season.
In the first game, senior Courtney Shalla scored back-to-back aces to cut the deficit to 14-10. Shalla earned 15 assists, three digs, three aces and 9-9 serving on the night.
With the score 18-15, Mid-Prairie scored on a long set that gave them momentum and looked as if they would take the opening game.
The Golden Hawks scored five straight to a 20-18, their first since 2-1. Ultimately, West Liberty's 4-0 run on the next sequence was too much to overcome as they took the decision 25-22.
"Our whole goal is to work together and we were doing that our first game," head coach Cindy Miller said. "We achieved our goal, but obviously you want to win.”
The second game saw another tie at 5-5. The Comets took a 10-5 edge with five straight points. Senior Laura Yoder ended the run with a kill. Yoder finished with two kills, one block and 6-6 on serves.
The pair of teams continued to make the matchup a game of runs. After a 14-all deadlock, West Liberty went on a 9-0 run that led to a 25-19 win.
The final game was never close. The lead ballooned to 19-9, before the Comets took their largest lead of the game 25-13 to end the game.
“When we make a few mistakes, we revert back to our old ways of playing tentative,” she said. “We got to learn to get over that. That is experience. We got to keep up our momentum. We were on fire the first game. We weren't doing too bad the second game. Then they started getting kills and we made errors."
Kurtz finished with seven kills and one block. Senior Courtney Cayton was second on the team in kills with four. She also totaled three digs.
"Taylor is a force up there on the net, there is no doubt about it," she said. "I give credit to Courtney Cayton on the outside. We switched up our lineup. We tried to even up our offense and I think it worked well."
Mid-Prairie (3-2) amassed half of last season's win total in just four matches.
"We are off to a great start," said head coach Cindy Miller. "At the start everyone counted us out. We are going to surprise a lot of teams."
With new boss Miller at the helm Mid-Prairie has a different look following a frustrating year.
"I think this year with a new coach and a lot of new seniors who haven't necessarily stepped on the court — we have a couple who have seen the court — it will be fresh and new," Yoder said. "It will be a new program and new everything. I think that will help us out a lot."
One of the focuses Miller has for her team is serving. This game the team had a season-best 98 percent successful serving rate going 53-for-54. Junior Ashley Sojka was the top server going 10-for-10. The team even put up better numbers than what the coach initially thought.
"I think we missed two serves all night, so I'm ecstatic," Miller said.
Yoder said a stout league schedule is always difficult to maneuver.
"I think we have a really tough conference," Yoder said. "A couple went to state last year.”