ADA — Never underestimate the importance of winning the first set.
Ada held off a determined Allen East team in the first set that saw rallies by both squad to garner a 26-24 win and that provided the necessary spark to carry the Bulldogs to win the next two sets, 25-16, 25-15 and beat the Mustangs in a Northwest Conference clash Thursday night.
Ada improves to 8-2 on the season and 2-0 in the NWC. Allen East falls to 3-4 and dips to 1-1 in the conference. The Bulldogs have not lost a conference game in two years.
“That was huge,” Kyleight Tabor said about winning the first set. “We had the momentum after that. I felt like winning that game gave us more confidence and we were a completely different team the next two sets.”
Allen East Laura Stratton Basham agreed with her counterpart.
“I think that would have set the tone if we got the first set,” Basham said. “It would have put us up a little bit in our attitude and gave us some momentum.”
The Mustangs, who are working in a lot of young players, continued to be plagued by unforced errors. In the first game, Allen East dug itself in a hole 19-10 but went on a 13-4 run to take the lead 23-22 and poised to snatch the game away. However, another unforced error and missed serve coupled with a kill from Megan Light followed by a tip by the senior secured the two-point victory.
Light finished the night with 12 kills.
More importantly Light had five blocks that is a team-high this season and Miranda Wills, who recorded three aces and 11 digs, added three blocks. Tabor pointed out that they have been averaging about two blocks a contest. In the digs department, Morgan Swick had 15 digs, Sydney Gossard had 11 digs, Riley Conley had 10 digs and Kendal Guagenti finished with nine digs.
Tabor said this year she has stressed defense and was encouraged with what she saw against Allen East.
“The girls did a great job at the net blocking,” Tabor said. “That is something we have been working on We are a small team. I don’t have very many tall girls this year so the fact that we had that many blocks was great. The girls are working hard at the net.”
For the Mustangs, it is an opportunity to learn about executing and avoiding mistakes. The Mustangs showed what they could do when they shed those errors in the first set where they mounted a big comeback .
“It is just silly mistakes,” Basham said. “We have a little bit of an inexperienced team and new girls coming up so there are little things to work on and perfect a little things.”
Basham added that she saw some positives including the work done by her labero, Alex Briley, and some of the older girls stepping up and providing support and advice to the inexperienced players.
“We still have a some good hitters but it is the little things we need to work on,” Basham said.
For Allen East, Grace Howard had 10 kills, Kristin Whitley notched nine kills and Anamya Truex recorded three blocks. Summer McCloskey recorded 27 assists and two aces
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468.