Springfield, MO: The Tigers lost all three pool play matches today though finishing strong losing a tough 5 set match to Crowley’s Ridge. This gives the Tigers the 4th seed and play NCCAA II powerhouse Kentucky Christian University, the #1 Seed from the A pool tomorrow morning.
“To say I’m disappointed is a major understatement. I fully came expecting to compete with a much higher level of execution than what we showed early on. Uncharacteristic mistakes and a high level of errors doomed us from the start. I’m probably more upset with myself in not having the ladies better prepared. I’m the coach and need to find some ways to fix things.” A visibly distraught coach Spooner said after the second match loss to Southwestern University.
In the opening match against host Baptist Bible the Tigers simply could not find any consistency at all and lost in four sets: 21-25; 25-23; 17-25; 22-25. The Tigers had 56 total errors virtually eliminating any chance at winning. “I know losing like that left a bitter taste in the teams mouth but we clearly beat ourselves especially with 36 attack errors and 12 service errors.”
In the second match against NAIA Southwestern Christian University the team found some new life becoming more competitive but still struggled with being consistent and competing losing in three; 22-25; 18-25; 19-25. “The scores reflect close sets but not how inconsistent we were at times. We have to find a toughness to close out teams and push points. Again that is a coaches responsibility to work that out and I look forward to challenging our team leadership the same.” Coach Spooner said.
In the third match however the challenge was clearly laid out by Coach Spooner. “I told the team we needed to win this match to gain a 3rd seed avoiding Kentucky Christian in the first round. I knew the teams in the other pool we would be very competitive with and so we needed to step up our level of play. Crowley’s Ridge had just defeated Baptist Bible in three sets so we knew our work was cut out for us. But it’s not about winning the match but competing to win every point which we did in the sets we won and for the most part in the fifth set too.” Coach Spooner said.
Behind a much improved offensive attack led by Senior Joee Spooner and Junior Naomi Kemper both with 16 kills and 28 assists by freshman Aubree Domsic, the Tigers played with a great sense of urgency. After losing the first set 15-25, they came back winning the second set 25-23; losing the third 13-25 and winning the fourth in dramatic fashion 25-20 with some of the longest rallies played in a long time. “Crowley’s Ridge is well coached and their players simply wouldn’t give up on any ball. Time and time again we had chances to put them away early and they would keep putting the ball back in play.” Coach Spooner said.
In the fifth set down 9-4, senior Tabitha Ryan started a string of aggressive serves which the Tigers played out with a much higher level of urgency. Then the team had several chances at match point to put Crowley’s away but simply couldn’t finish it losing 15-17. “I was proud of how we did fight back in that match and not quit. We will learn minimizing mistakes makes us that much of a more effective team. However this bi-polar type of play has got to change for us to realize our true potential and with the senior class we have, it’s really important to get it now.” Coach Spooner said.