By Doug Brenneman, JOURNAL Sports
It was a bit of a reversal of fortunes Thursday in Washington.
Mid-Prairie had already won three matches this high school volleyball season. Washington was playing its first match.
The Demons cruised to a 25-15 win in the first set. The second set saw each team with at least 4-point leads and it was tied 14 times before Mid-Prairie pulled out a 30-28 win.
The momentum from that set helped the Golden Hawks win the next set 25-14. Washington rallied to make it close in the fourth set, but Mid-Prairie won 25-23 for a 3-1 match win.
The triumph left the Golden Hawks undefeated in four matches after winning just five all of last year.
?We were so flat at the start,? Mid-Prairie coach Cindy Miller said. ?I told them that this is not the way we are going to play this year. We are changing the culture. We are a positive team. I think they finally believe that.?
The start was all Washington. After the first set was tied at 2,3,5 and 8, a block by Phelan Hostetler, consecutive kills from Addison Six, then a kill and consecutive aces from Hostetler put the score at 20-10 for the Demons. Hannah Anderson connected on a spike for a 22-14 lead and Six finished it off with a kill and an ace.
?I thought the girls came out strong and played exactly how they are capable,? Washington coach Alexa Mahr said. ?The momentum from the first set win carried over into the second set, which was a very hard-fought battle.?
The second set was tied at each point through 5-5, then Mid-Prairie took control. Kills from Caitlyn Riggan and Cassidy Hershberger gave the visitors leads of 9-5, 13-7 and 19-12.
The Demons started a comeback with aces from Hostetler and kills from Six. A smash by Isabel Bailey from a set by Kinsey Duwa tied it at 20. When Six landed an ace for a 23-20 lead, it seemed the Demons had control.
It was an illusion. Neither team could score three consecutive points as the set was tied repeatedly.
?I was proud of how resilient the team was throughout the back-and-forth set points in that second set,? Mahr said.
Mid-Prairie broke the last tie when Makensie Rich hit one in for a 29-28 score and an error ended the set.
?It only takes one to get you going,? Miller said. ?The biggest thing is they are learning to rally together.?
?The team handled the second-set loss just like I thought they would, determined to come back the next set,? Mahr said.
Washington took a 7-2 lead in the third set.
?Then we caught fire,? Miller said. ?Winning that second set gave us momentum. It turned out to be the difference in the match.?
Mid-Prairie scored 15 of the next 18 points for a 17-10 lead. The Demons pulled within 17-13 but Myah Lugar started connecting on kills (she had 13 on the night), including a smash down the line for game point. The Golden Hawks had outscored the home team 23-7 after the early deficit.
?We cleaned up on that set and played really strong,? Miller said.
The fourth set saw the visitors take a 3-0 lead, then trail 6-4 before scoring seven straight points. A block by Tori Boyse made the score 16-10 for Mid-Prairie. An ace from Amber Swart and another from Hershberger gave the Golden Hawks a 21-14 lead.
Washington refused to fold. All the bench players stood and it seemed to energize the Demons.
?Emotions were high because it was the first match of the season and the girls wanted the win so bad,? Mahr said.
Six slammed down one of her 13 kills, then an ace from Kinsey Duwa brought the Demon deficit to 21-18 and Miller called timeout.
?There were such long rallies, so I told them ?Let?s attack,?? Miller said. ?I don?t want to play not to lose. I want to play to win. We have to be offensive. If you are just pushing the ball over to keep it alive, there is no purpose to it.?
Boyse got a kill out of the timeout for a 22-18 edge.
A kill from Isabel Bailey and another from Six made it a 22-21 Demon deficit.
A long rally ended when Riggan chased down a ball and somehow got it over the net where it fell in for the 24th Mid-Prairie point.
?We had some very good hustling plays,? Miller said. ?We absolutely did.?
Bailey connected again for Washington at 24-23 but a well-placed dink from Rich ended the match in the Golden Hawks? favor.
?Even though it didn?t end up in our favor tonight, I was very pleased with the determination, hard work, and attitude of the team,? Mahr said. ?We will continue to work hard both physically and mentally!?
Six had 11 digs while Demon teammate Kaitlyn Mitchell had 12. Hostetler provided eight kills and Bailey seven. Duwa put up 16 assists while Alexa Mitchell had 10.
Boyse had two blocks and six kills while MP teammate Tayler Murphy had six kills. Abbi Patterson and Rich combined for 42 digs. Riggan had 29 assists.
Mid-Prairie starts conference play at Iowa City Regina Thursday.
Washington plays at Grinnell Saturday.