by Eric Oslund
The Spectrum Sting volleyball team opened their conference schedule on Thursday, Sept. 7, against Heritage Christian Academy, a team that has historically had their number.
After a 1-2 start, the Sting wanted this win. It would be huge confidence boost for them moving forward, and things could not have gone better for them to start. They took the first set 25-17, controlling almost every aspect from the first serve.
The girls were excited, and looking to continue that momentum, but little by little their confidence seemed to slip away as Heritage’s continued to increase.
The Sting jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the second set, but Heritage worked its way back into it, tying the game 4-4. They would then take their first lead at 6-5, and wouldn’t look back. Going on to defeat the Sting 25-18 and evening up the match at one set a piece.
“When the other team started serving well, hitting well, that confidence started to erode rather quickly in some of the players,” Spectrum head coach Tex Cuabo said. “It’s always been my philosophy to allow the players a little bit of time to work through some of the mental toughness part.”
So the head coach continued to leave a good chunk of his players in, letting them work through some of the struggles they were having. He would rotate some of the bench players in and out at time to give the starters a break, but for the most part he wanted his players learn how to overcome adversity.
When that third set started, it looked as though they had gotten over those mental hurdles in front of them. The girls battled with Heritage throughout the set, with neither team holding a lead larger than three points at any given time, and when the opposing head coach called a timeout late, it was the Sting sitting on top 23-22.
They only needed two points to take the set and go up 2-1, but, instead, unforced errors ended up costing the Sting as they began hitting the ball into the net or out of bounds, helping secure a 25-23 set victory for Heritage.
It was a tough one to swallow, but there was some confidence for the Sting coming out of the third set, despite letting it slip away from them.
“We started to figure out what they were doing,” Cuabo began. “We read what they were trying to do and we positioned ourselves in a spot to be able to cover those tips. When that stopped being an opportunity for them to score, then they were starting to lose their confidence and we were finding ours, so that kind of helped out in my opinion.”
The fourth set was close throughout, and then Cuabo called a timeout when his team was up 20-19, just to give his players a chance to rest and compose themselves. It worked to perfection as the Sting would go on to win 25-21, taking the fourth set and tied the match at two sets a piece.
“You could tell by the body language that they were starting to gain that confidence back,” the head coach said of his team after that fourth set. “I wasn’t too worried about it in the fifth set. I thought we were playing tough as it was and were putting a good product out there on the court.”
Sure enough, the Sting controlled play throughout the fifth and final set, winning 15-9. It was a big win for them moving forward, getting back to .500, earning that first conference win, and defeating a team that they have struggled against in the past.
Their confidence was clearly resignation throughout the girls in that final set, and now they are hoping it continues to build for the remainder of the year.