The ball didn’t bounce favorably for the Abilene Cowgirls in their volleyball season opening quad inside the AHS gym. North Central Kansas League foe Concordia defeated the Cowgirls in three sets, as did TMP and Smoky Valley.
It was the first games of the season for first-year head coach Jade Koch. The Cowgirls battled but couldn’t finish. In all three matches, Abilene forced a game three and they trailed in each but rallied to tie or take the lead late in the set but couldn’t finish off the last set in each match.
“I told the girls tonight, the difference between a good volleyball team and a great volleyball team is a great team finishes off their opponents,” Koch said. “We just couldn’t finish tonight.”
Thomas Moore Prep took the Cowgirls to the third set after opening with a 28-26 win and then have the Cowgirls battle back for a 25-18 win. In the final set, TMP led most of the way only to have the Cowgirls battle back for a tie at 23-23. TMP powered over the final two points for the match win.
Unofficially against TMP, seniors Beth Holmes and Olivia Howie served up two aces from the service line and fellow senior Chesney Sprinkle stroked one for the Cowgirls. Holmes and Jenna Hayes had seven kills each with Emma Wildman busting six. Wildman led the team with two blocks in the first match.
Concordia playing under first year head coach Alison Widen couldn’t figure out the Cowgirls in the opening set as they fell 15-25 to Abilene. Changing to the other end of the court was what they needed as Concordia bounced back for a 25-10 win. The Panthers took the third set 26-24 after the Cowgirls rallied from six down for a 24-24 tie, but once again couldn’t finish off the opponent.
Howie and Joy Clemence served up two aces each for Abilene. Sprinkle and Wildman had six kills each and Holmes added five. Sprinkle accounted for three blocks unofficially against the Panthers.
Smoky Valley took the opening set 25-19 and the Cowgirls battled to the end in both of the final two sets. Abilene took the second set 27-25 when Hayes served up the game-winning ace. The third set resembled the other third sets on the night as the opponent got the lead only to see the Cowgirls rally for a tie but once again couldn’t finish for the win.
“Our kids fought hard, they didn’t give up,” Koch said. “It’s always tough when you lose but we can learn from it. We made too many errors, we got down too soon after digging a hole and we just couldn’t get out of the hole. They’ve got to figure out a way to finish.
“They competed with every team and I appreciate that,” Koch added. “We made some adjustments during some of the matches that got us more points but it was rough, we’ve got to figure out a way to finish.”
Koch praised the play of senior Libero Makenna McGivney as she “dug just about everything tonight” and she mentioned the play of sophomore Taya Hoerner who saw considerable minutes in each match.
Koch was pleased with the back line play but noted at the end that the hitters on the front row need to work on hitting the ball down and keeping it inside the court.
“I thought tonight a lot of our errors came when we couldn’t put the ball down by the front row hitters,” Koch said. “I felt like the back row did a really nice job tonight. Our hitters just need to work a little bit on getting the ball down.”
The Cowgirls travel to Concordia next Tuesday for a rematch with the Lady Panthers.