Thomas Dale Falls To Matoaca
By Ryan Lazo, sports editor
Oct 9, 2013, 08:23
Ryan Lazo/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
CHESTER — One step forward, two steps back. It’s the old adage to describe a team only a few plays away from putting it all together and going on a dominating run. Unfortunately, it also describes the Thomas Dale girls volleyball team this season.
The Knights last won a district championship two years ago and are known for producing powerhouse volleyball teams both on the girls and boys side. However, this season has been a struggle to find consistency.
Thomas Dale started the season with two consecutive losses before finally getting in the win column. Then, a loss followed by four consecutive wins before falling in another two straight.
But entering their match against Matoaca Tuesday night, it seemed the Knights had finally put everything together. What they went over during practice — distinctive passing plays — showed up during game action.
Yet, after falling behind to the Warriors, the Knights never recovered, dropping three consecutive sets and the match to Matoaca by a 25-12, 25-18, 25-10 margin.
While the Warriors (9-4) possessed a clear advantage in height, limiting the amount of blocks and kills the Knights (7-6) could produce. But Thomas Dale coach Arianne Haywood said the Warriors length is not the reason the Knights’ two-game winning streak was brought to a halt.
“The height didn’t really kill us because I don’t believe the height really took away our play,” Haywood said. “We were able to push some of the hitters quickly to the back row. It was our passes that did us in.”
And she’s right.
All it took was a few sets to see Matoaca’s players seemingly had a sixth sense, knowing at all times where each other would be. They set up kills and passing plays with ease.
Meanwhile, Thomas Dale seemed to be out of sync the entire night. Yet, surprisingly, it was the Knights who stormed out of the gate in the opening match behind the serving of Sydney Frink who recorded four aces in the game to go along with six digs and six kills.
Ryan Lazo/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
Behind their lively home crowd, Thomas Dale went on a 12-3 run to start the game, forcing Matoaca into a timeout. Then, the Warriors answered with a 16-5 run to take a 19-18 lead, one they would not relinquish the rest of the night.
The Warriors dominance in the first set after the quick start demoralized the Knights as they lost more focus with each passing set. It’s an aspect Haywood said they will be quick to correct in practice.
“Once the momentum swung, and we lost a couple, we have to mentally prepare ourselves to get the next one and we didn’t do that,” Haywood explained. “We’re going to work on it in practice by playing from behind, playing down 16 points and you have to fight your way back.”
And it has to be encouraging to Haywood to know she has players on her team which excelled in short spurts during the match against Matoaca. The key will now be to get them to be consistent throughout the match.
Bethany Brown is someone who can help lead the Knights into a winning direction with her knack for making plays.
Numerous times, Brown would find herself leaving her zone to make a play and keep it alive with one of her six digs on the night or her laser-guided serves which helped her finish with six aces.
It also helps to have players like Mikalah Cribb and Taylor Palmer playing close to the net with their own height and jumping ability. Cribb also came up big numerous times with diving digs, big blocks and four kills on the night. Meanwhile, Palmer recorded four digs, three kills and four aces, filling up the stat sheet during the match.
Yet, even with every player playing well at different points, the lack of execution as a whole doomed the Knights.
“We just have to bump-set and hit the ball,” Haywood said. “We didn’t attack the ball either or play as smart as we could have.”
Mental errors are easily fixed and if the season continues the trend its been on, this loss should be followed by a few wins. However, keeping their winning ways will come down to consistency, something which has eluded the Knights thus far and will be a key factor come playoff time.