CONCORDIA – Matching up against the Concordia Lady Panther volleyball team for the second time in under a week, the Abilene Cowgirls struggled Tuesday evening on the road dropping two matches in the opener of the North Central Kansas League race.

Concordia, who went undefeated at the Abilene Quad to begin the season, took both matches from the Cowgirls 22-25, 25-16, 25-10 and 25-21, 25-16.

Just like in the quad, the Cowgirls came out pistols blazing and playing consistent team volleyball. In the opening set of the first match, Abilene was clicking on all cylinders. And just like in the Quad, the Cowgirls could not sustain that momentum into the second and third sets.

The Cowgirls looked like what their projected potential should be in the opening set. Passing was spot on and the kill shots went away from the blockers and stayed in bounds for Abilene points. But just as sharp as they were in the opening set, the Cowgirls flipped the page in set number two. Two many forced errors, kill shots powered out of bounds and service errors against a really good Concordia team spelled doom for the Cowgirls.

“That is what we have been doing consistently this year, coming out on fire and playing really well and playing better than some teams in the first set and then it is not carrying over into the second and third sets,” Abilene head coach Jade Koch said. “Too many forced errors. We would fight back to rally and get back in the game and then we couldn’t get a serve over. That can’t continue to happen. Especially when you are playing teams like this, you have got to eliminate those types of errors. That is a great team. You can’t make as many errors against a team like that and expect to win.”

Abilene would get down early in the second and third sets and had dug too big of a hole to climb out of in the first match. Senior Chesney Sprinkle had some timely kills in the opening set as Abilene prevailed 25-22.

The second match was pretty much like the blue print of the opening match. Abilene came out playing well but again could not sustain the momentum and by creating too many errors, Concordia was able to rally to take the opening set of the match 25-22. In the second set, the Lady Panthers built a five or six point lead that eventually turned into a nine-point win 25-16.

Coach Koch has been working on changing up the offense schemes and the adjusting the lineups to try and stem the trend that Abilene is currently playing but the team just hasn’t gotten there yet. Close, but can’t finish.

“We have tried several different things to try and get us going,” Koch said. “We tried a four – two in the first set but I felt like our defense was weak on the back side so we adjusted again into a five – one. That left us with Beth as our only setter. There are good things and bad things about each one of those adjustments against a team like this. We just have to keep working on it. Beth is such a great leader on the court and she is also a powerful hitter and when we do a five – one, we lose her as a hitter and we can’t afford to do that.”

Senior Libero Makenna McGivney was all over the court again against Concordia digging balls on the back line to help get the Cowgirl offense going. Senior setter Beth Holmes provided just enough assists to put the Cowgirls in the right position to be successful but then the front line shot would be blocked or it was powered to hard and hit the out of bounds area to give a point to the Panthers.

The Cowgirls will regroup this week and then head to Southeast of Saline on Saturday for their first weekend tournament of the season.

Contact Ron Preston at sports@abilene-rc.com.

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