NEW MADISON – After a dominating win in the opening set Thursday evening, the Tri-Village volleyball team lost the next three sets to Bethel to lose 3-1 in a Cross County Conference volleyball match.
Tri-Village coach Eric Burkhart said he thought the Lady Patriots’ youth showed in the 25-9, 25-15, 25-18, 25-19 loss on Thursday.
“The only thing that I can think of is we’re still a young team,” he said. “We make some mistakes, and then we just kind of get down on ourself. That’s something that’s going to take time and just get a little experience under their belt. I’m a new coach, something new. So when we get the hang of it, we get there, we’ll have it. And I’m hoping we can get that here pretty shortly.”
The first set couldn’t have gone much better for Tri-Village, who never trailed in the opening game. From a 1-1 tie the Patriots scored the next five points to build a lead they held the rest of the game in the 25-9 victory.
“We started that first game real strong,” Burkhart said. “They were all together. They played well. They played well as a team, and we just did everything right. Couldn’t do nothing wrong.”
The second set Bethel rebounded, and the teams played close. But from a 12-11 lead, Bethel went on a 13-4 run to close out the game and even the match at 1-1.
After falling behind 3-0 in the third set, Tri-Village rallied to tie the game at 3-3. But that’s the most momentum the Patriots had in that set as Bethel took control and led the rest of the way en route to a 25-18 win and a two games to none lead.
After starting the fourth set with a 3-0 lead, Tri-Village allowed Bethel to score nine consecutive points and go ahead 9-3. But the Patriots fought back and tied it up at 10-10. Bethel then scored the next five points and started to pull away for a 25-19 victory to win the match in four sets.
Kara Hollinger led Tri-Village with 11 digs on Thursday. Payge Malott had six assists, and Allie Downing had three blocks. Autaum Moore had five kills while Downing added four.
Burkhart saw some issues with the Patriots on Thursday, including their normally dependable serve-receive.
“That’s usually our strongest point,” he said. “At the beginning of the season our serve-receive was real strong. I’m not quite sure what’s going on there, but we’ll have to work on it during practice. That shouldn’t be a hard fix for these girls.”
The Patriots also struggled at the net, but they’re showing some real progress in that area.
“Our short game at the net is a little off,” Burkhart said. “We’re going to have to work on that tomorrow for sure and just the fundamentals.
“Our net play is getting better. It’s getting better. Allie Downing, this is her first year ever playing volleyball. So she’s a real quick learner. We worked on tipping drills last week, and I’m amazed at how quick they’ve already picked that up. So they’re getting better on the tips. I would like to see more swings, though. We’re still a little timid on hitting the ball. We want to tip, tip, tip. And I don’t mind mixing it up, but I need to get them the confidence to start swinging.”
Tri-Village fell to 1-6 with the loss. The Patriots return to action on Saturday with a home tri-match against Stivers and Troy Christian beginning at 11 a.m.
“We’ll work through, and we’ll just keep trying to get better and see if we can’t come out of it,” Burkhart said.
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports. For more features online go to advocate360.org or ‘like The Daily Advocate’ on Facebook by searching Advocate360.