What seemed to be an easy victory after two sets, ended up a few points shy of a disastrous home loss Tuesday for the South Tama volleyball squad.
After two convincing victories in the opening sets, the Trojans struggled during the next two sets and allowed South Hardin to tie the contest at 2-2. The Trojans (7-3) found their swag once again during the final set and defeated the Tigers (3-8).
"Wow, five games again," senior Jade Rohach said after the contest. "Winning in five games just proves that we can still come back after playing bad. We can't be cocky. I think we take some teams too lightly and we did that tonight after the first two games. We had to come back and win at the end, instead of finishing it early."
STC coach Michelle Bradley found a hard time to describe the way her team played Tuesday. When asked about the good and bad aspects of the game, she gave a simple answer.
"It's all of the above," Bradley said. "That was us tonight. It was all of the above."
Tuesday's match started with three-straight South Hardin points. That would become a trend as the Tigers scored the opening points of every set in the match.
South Tama rallied back and took a 9-4 lead after junior Emily Martin served seven points. Rohach helped with two kills during the run. Senior Shelby Bradley aced the Tigers later in the set, giving STC a 17-8 advantage. However, the Tigers came back with three aces and closed the gap in half, but South Tama answered their run. STC scored eight of the final nine points of the set and won 25-14.
A slow start plagued the Trojans in the second set. They fell behind 7-2 before rallying with five points behind an ace from Martin and a kill from S. Bradley. The Trojans seemed to take control of the match when Rohach aced the Tigers twice and gave STC a 10-9 lead. Then South Hardin rallied with a 4-1 run, which woke up Trojans once again.
S. Bradley aced the Tigers three times, junior Trisha Walz had a kill and the Tigers began committing unforced errors as the Trojans built a 19-13 lead. The Trojans finished the set with a pair of aces from Walz as they won 25-17.
"I still think we can play 10 times harder than we did those first two games," Rohach said. "I'm still waiting for our team to play as hard as we did at the Iowa Games this summer. We played good, but I think we can play so much better."
Both squads battled in the second set as neither one led by more than two points until late in the set. It was tied at 19-19 when South Hardin scored four-straight points. Then STC came back with three of its own, closing the gap to 23-22. It was tied 24-24 and then South Hardin scored the last two points after STC served into the net and spiked the ball out of bounds. The Tigers won the set 26-24.
"We did come out and play well in the beginning," coach Bradley said. "We can say we did that.
"The the wheels fell off of our wagon," she said. "I don't know what happened. We're such a rollercoaster team. That's the only way to describe us."
The fourth set would be quite similar as it remained close, but STC mistakes allowed South Hardin to keep a small lead. A Rohach ace closed South Hardin's lead to 20-18 late in the match. But more STC errors doomed the Trojans as they lost the set 25-20.
"I think we took them too lightly and thought we had it in the bag," Rohach said. "We also weren't communicating as much or being as scrappy."
The match that looked to be a three-set victory for South Tama came down to a set to 15 points. STC jumped out to a fast 4-1 lead behind kills from junior Paige Van Dyk and Rohach. Walz recorded three kills during the middle of the set to help STC build a 9-4 advantage. South Tama finished the Tigers with a pair of kills from Rohach on the final two points. STC won the set 15-8.
"We kept talking and bringing each other up," Rohach said. "When we huddled up after each point, we'd actually talk to each other and tell each other what we needed to do, instead of just yelling 'team.'"
South Tama's coach was glad her players came through and found a way to win after two disappointing sets.
"We can stay positive that they came through at the end," Bradley said. "As a team, they had to do it. They had to dig deep. There wasn't anything in the huddle that I could say to them. They had to do it themselves. I'm glad they came together and finished it."
The Trojans will play in West Delaware's tournament on Saturday. On Tuesday, they will travel to State Center to play West Marshall.
"This week is a slow one for us," coach Bradley said. "We just have tonight's match and then a tournament on the weekend. We get some rest before Saturday."