Costly mistakes lead to E.V. loss

Mallory Hester played in her final game as a Lady Bear against HLV on October 23. Hester finished the game with seven assists, three digs and was perfect on her 10 service attempts.

After winning nine of their past 12 sets, the English Valleys Lady Bears were feeling good. Their most recent win was a sweep over neighbor Tri-County, where the team hit on all cylinders. The girls were hoping to continue that pace of play when they traveled to Victor on October 23 for the second round of Regional play.

Unfortunately for the Lady Bears, things didn’t go as they had hoped. A slow start allowed HLV to jump out to an early lead, and was one of the things E.V. had to avoid doing in order to give themselves a chance at winning. HLV used their aggressive hitters to frustrate the E.V. squad, who began to make errors along the way. Despite falling behind, the Lady Bears knew there was a lot of game yet to be played.

"Volleyball is a game of not only who makes fewer mistakes, but who overcomes them better," E.V. coach Becky Becker said. "We didn't do either of that. We made too many mistakes, a majority of which were avoidable."

A few short rallies kept things interesting for E.V. but they would end up falling 25-15. The second set wasn't much better as E.V. couldn't find a big enough rally to overtake HLV. Confidence was starting to also take some hits and drop for the Lady Bears, which had been a key to their success all season. HLV wound up taking the second set 25-14.

"When they made adjustments we didn't counter well," Becker said. "We served great and played hard, just not well enough."

English Valleys came out fighting in the third set, managing to string together several points. As the confidence began to creep back in the minds of the E.V. girls, so did their increased play. Shots were more aggressive, blocks were firmer, and less balls found the floor. The HLV team that had looked unbeatable through two sets, suddenly began to waver slightly.

Just when it seemed like E.V. was about to extend the match, HLV put up a fight of their own. Several key plays allowed HLV to keep their streak going, and pull back the momentum E.V. had gained. In the end, HLV wound up sweeping E.V. after a 25-21 third set score.

As a team, the Lady Bears only missed on two of 51 service attempts, had 53 digs and 17 kills in the loss.

In her final game as a Lady Bear, Audrey Grove put the team on her back, often times doing it all herself. She ended the night with a team high 12 kills, three digs, two blocks and the team's only two aces. Mallory Hester, also a senior, had seven assists and three digs. Three other seniors (Lexie Miller, Sydney Olson and Mykayla Russell) combined for 30 digs and one kill in their final game.