UNION CITY – After losing the first two sets Thursday evening, the Mississinawa Valley volleyball team mounted a comeback and won the next three to defeat Bradford 18-25, 29-31, 25-19, 25-10, 15-7 in a Cross County Conference match.
Playing in front of a large crowd as Mississinawa Valley had its Volley for the Cure night, the Lady Hawks came out flat before rebounding to get the victory.
“I think the girls relaxed a little and started having fun,” Mississinawa Valley coach Billie Hunt said. “I think they came out kind of cold and stiff, and they weren’t really enjoying the game. And they decided they were going to have fun and play the game, and that’s what they did, and that’s how they play their best games, is when they’re having fun.”
In the first set it was Bradford who enjoyed success. After falling down 2-0 to start the match, the Lady Railroaders scored the next seven points to take a lead they never gave up in a 25-18 victory.
“I’m glad that everyone got to see what I see every single day at practice because that’s really who we are,” Bradford coach Maddie Armstrong said. “That’s how we practice. It just doesn’t always translate into the game we want to.”
The second set was much closer with 14 ties.
It was a back-and-forth affair as Bradford had set point at 24-23, but MV rebounded and went up 25-24. Then Bradford rebounded and went ahead 26-25 before MV regained the lead at 27-26. Bradford once again went ahead, this time 28-27, but MV again rebounded and took a 29-28 lead. But from there Bradford scored the next three points to win the game 31-29 and go up two sets to none in the match.
Even though her team lost the set and fell behind 2-0, Hunt said the Lady Hawks gained some momentum at the end of the second set.
“I’m just thrilled that my girls got that momentum going late in that game, and from there we just kind of took over,” she said.
With some momentum finally on its side, Mississinawa Valley started the third set on a 6-1 run. The Hawks never trailed in that game and won 25-19 to cut Bradford’s lead to 2-1.
“I think they kind of got in their own heads and kind of thought they had it in the bag and didn’t quite finish the way we wanted them to,” Armstrong said of Bradford.
The momentum carried over to the fourth set for Mississinawa Valley. The Hawks took a 7-1 lead early and again never trailed in the set, riding the momentum to a dominating 25-10 victory to force a decisive fifth game.
“I think we just lost momentum, and we just didn’t really recover from it,” Armstrong said. “That can be one of our weaknesses, not recovering.”
With all the momentum on Mississinawa Valley’s side, the Hawks started the fifth game on a 7-0 run. Once again they never trailed in the set and won 15-7 to complete the comeback.
“Really the girls just kind of all came together,” Hunt said. “They were celebrating with each other. They were celebrating each other’s victories and just supporting each other, and that’s what I want to see them doing.”
For Bradford, Thursday’s match showed that the Lady Railroaders can compete, Armstrong said. They just have to be mentally strong.
“I think we just need to do a better job of staying out of our own heads and playing more the way that we know we can play as opposed to worrying about how the other team is playing and letting them set the pace,” Armstrong said.
In addition to being happy with her team’s victory, Hunt also was happy with the results of the Volley for the Cure initiative. The Hawks wore pink and raised money for breast cancer research, making it a special night for them, Hunt said.
“I think it’s tremendous,” she said. “Everyone probably knows someone that’s been affected by breast cancer. I know we’ve had a couple within our own school system, teachers. I think it’s a great cause, and everybody kind of comes out and supports.”
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.