Mid-Prairie edges Washington in three sets
WELLMAN — Anytime you have a new coach there is a transition phase.
For the Washington volleyball team even the slightest progress is a step forward.
The Demons lost to Mid-Prairie 3-0, Tuesday, with the first game showing the most promise.
“The first two sets were definitely closer games,” said head coach Julianna Berg. “The first set was really a good one. Really competitive on both sides.”
The Golden Hawks won 25-19, 25-13 and 25-14, but these games were more evenly matched than their meeting ahead of this season.
“We scrimmaged them in the preseason and they weren’t real tough,” said Mid-Prairie head coach Cindy Miller. “But it was not the same girls who were playing in the preseason.”
Berg said volleyball comes down to mind over matter.
“The negative things just slowly kind of snowballed,” Berg said. “It really just becomes a mental block. It is there physically, but it is all mental. The girls talk and say the right things, but it is about execution, having fun and having confidence. Sometimes they take themselves too seriously.”
Mid-Prairie snapped a seven-game losing streak with the win.
“Just to get a win at home for us is a big thing,” Miller said. “We need that confidence to go on with our season.”
For Washington, the learning process speeds up with nights like Tuesday. It traveled to a packed gym and played in front of spirited opposing fans.
“Absolutely, it is so much fun,” Berg said. “I eat that stuff up. When I go out there and I can hardly hear myself think — those are the times that is fun to play.”
At this point in the season Berg wants her squad to focus on what they control and not the result.
“They are focused too much on winning and losing instead of if we played well,” Berg said. “There is always focus on what I didn’t do well. It comes with practice. It doesn’t happen overnight.”
Senior Victoria Bennett continues to lead the team on offense.
“I think you see this as a recurring pattern; Victoria Bennett always does a really nice job,” Berg said. “You can see it in her eyes how much she loves it, how much passion she has. I never worry about her in the game. I know she is always focused. She did a great job up front blocking.”
Junior Lauren Swan had a solid all-around game as the team’s best defensive player.
“Lauren Swan always does a nice job in the back row,” Berg said. “Whether it’s servicing, passing or defense.”
After putting forth one of its best performances of the season Tuesday against Keokuk where every game was within four points, the Demons failed to replicate that outing.
“Tuesday there was a lot of chemistry,” Berg said. “That is very hard to create and manufacture.”
Mid-Prairie junior Ashley Sojka had 11 digs. Hawks’ senior Shaylee Brown had a team-high seven aces. Junior Ashley Miller had a team-best 13 digs.
“Ashley Sojka, Shaylee Brown and Ashley Miller made plays in the back that gave us momentum,” Miller said.
Mid-Prairie senior Courtney Cayton had a bounce-back game from Cascade, Thursday, with four kills — including the winner in game three — and nine digs,
“We cut down on little errors,” Miller said. “I would say our first game against West Liberty, Thursday, was our best performance. This is our best team performance.”