The Lady Mustang volleyball team dropped to 1-3 in conference play Oct. 1 after suffering a 3-1 loss to Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont (EBF). EBF won the opening set 25-23 before Davis County took set two by a score of 28-26. EBF finished off the match with wins in sets three and four by scores of 25-23 and 25-15.

The loss is Davis County’s third straight in conference play. They beat Chariton 3-0 to start the conference season, but lost 3-0 matches to Knoxville and Albia before suffering a 3-1 loss to the Rockets last week.

“Our girls played really hard in this match. We just couldn’t finish like we should have,” said Coach Brooke Mason.

Davis County jumped out to an early lead in the opening set and was doing well behind the serving of Brett Lough. Lough picked up an ace while Jessica Early put down an early kill. Bryce Dixon also picked up a block of an EBF hitter to put the Lady Mustangs up 5-3.

EBF then went on a run that took Davis County out of its rhythm. Davis County managed to score on a few plays at the net, but EBF took Davis County out of its offense and kept the Lady Mustangs from getting any consistency going at the net.

The girls struggled to get kills down. Several were hit long or wide as the Rockets built a 21-13 lead midway through the set.

Nearing a loss in the opening set, Davis County took a timeout and regrouped before resuming play. The timeout worked well as Davis County came out strong. Dixon put down a kill to get things going again. She added a block. Kaden Porter added an ace serve to cut EBF’s lead to 21-16. Morgan Petefish and Kayla Joos picked up kills to keep Davis County alive.

Petefish and Porter came alive at the net and the Lady Mustangs battled back to a 24-23 deficit. A kill attempt hit long by Davis County gave EBF the 25-23 win.

The two teams battled back and forth in the second set working to gain control of the net play. Scoring runs on both sides made for an exciting set of play with both teams showing aggressive net play and some nice back row defensive efforts.

Hannah Schooley, Kara Greiner and Phoebe Moore each had some important digs to keep Davis County alive. That led to several EBF miscues as Davis County jumped out to a 16-11 lead. The Rockets battled back twice to take a late lead themselves, but a Petefish kill shut that rally down. Greiner added a pair of ace serves Porter and Dixon each had a couple of nice hits.

The two teams battled to a 24-24 tie. The played to a 25-25 tie and kept the tight match going. Eventually, a couple of crucial mistakes from EBF led to Davis County securing the 28-26 win.

Porter, Early and Petefish led the effort for Davis County in the third set. Davis County struggled early with its passing, but once that worked itself out, those three girls went to work pounding balls down onto the EBF defense. Davis County used a 6-0 scoring run to take an 11-10 lead early in the set.

Hitting errors and two hit violations plagued Davis County after that. EBF stretched its lead to 17-11 and Davis County just didn’t have what it took to recover. A late rally with kills from Petefish and Porter as well as an ace serve from Joos weren't enough. EBF took a 2-1 lead after winning the third set 25-23.

That loss seemed to take the fight out of Davis County in the final set. There was a noticeable drop in the intensity from the girls as the fourth set was being played. Davis County struggled to get its offense in sync, and the Rockets took advantage of every opportunity Davis County presented. Errant hits from the net and struggles with serving and serve receive plagued Davis County. EBF put together several scoring runs boosting their lead to 21-12 late in the set. Joos and Early tried to spark a late rally, but the effort was too little too late. EBF went on to win the set 25-15 and win the match 3-1.

“If we had gotten set three, I think we might have been more invested in set four. We didn’t fight as hard in that last set. It can feel defeating to work hard for something and fall short, but that is just one of the great lessons in sports. We have to help our kids learn to stay focused and not give up when we suffer disappointments or when things are hard,” said Mason.

“Ultimately, this match really just came down to which team was mentally tough enough to see it through. We have not gotten the outcome in our conference matches that we are used to getting. Over the past three seasons, we’ve had two second-place finishes and one third-place finish. Doing poorly in conference matches is difficult to process, especially for our seniors,” she said.

“Our serve receive was pretty inconsistent, especially from the start, and I think that hurt us in trying to build and maintain momentum. Despite that, Brett was able to get the ball to our hitters well enough for them to get some nice swings. Defensively, Bryce, Kaden, and Kayla blocked well and Kara led us with 22 digs. Phoebe, Brett, and Hannah also played big roles for us defensively. Our strategy was to serve tough, knowing that being too conservative would give away just as many, if not more, points than a few missed serves would. We have also put more emphasis on being more scrappy — not expecting everything to come over the net all nice and neat,” said Mason.

“I’m hoping that these three tough conference losses will fuel us to finish strong against Centerville and Clarke in the next two weeks,” she concluded.

Serving—Kaden Porter, 17-17; Kara Greiner, 18-20, 3 aces; Jessica Early, 14-15, 2 aces; Brett Lough, 13-14, 3 aces; Phoebe Moore, 10-11; Kayla Joos, 9-12 and Morgan Petefish, 2-2.

Hitting—Early, 26-33, 7 kills; Petefish, 21-26, 7 kills; Porter, 20-24, 6 kills; Joos, 13-16, 1 kill; Dixon, 12-14, 3 kills; Brett Lough, 7-7, 3 kills; Briley Lough, 2-3, 1 kill; Greiner, 2-2, 1 kill; Schooley, 1-2, 1 kill and Moore, 1-1.

Assists—Brett Lough, 27; Hannah Schooley, 3; Kara Greiner, 2 and Bryce Dixon, 1.

Digs—Greiner, 22; Schooley, 16; Moore, 12; Brett Lough, 12; Early, 4; Porter, 3; Dixon 2; Petefish, 1; Joos, 1; Briley Lough, 1.

Blocks—Dixon, 4; Joos, 3 and Porter, 1.