Just when the WCMS volleyball team seemed to be rounding the corner, they took a step back Tuesday night at home. The Lady Pioneers rallied for a big road win Monday night at Franklin North but fell at home to White County on Tuesday, leaving the group 2-4 on aggregate this year.
Coach Holly Palombo and the Lady Pioneers were delighted after Monday’s win, which saw the group respond to one of their worst sets with two standout performances. Warren County avoided an early 18-25 loss to win convincingly, 25-9, in the second set and claim a thrilling 15-13 win in the deciding set.
The Lady Pioneers may have expected a similar turnaround on Tuesday after losing the first set 9-25 and winning the second set 25-17, but another comeback was not expected. Warren County lost 7-15 in the final set, teaching the group a harsh lesson in the pitfalls of always trying to come from behind in games.
“I told our girls after the match that it was not a capacity issue – we have the knowledge and skills to succeed,” Palombo said after Sparta’s defeat. They are extremely talented. Mentally, you have to be tougher. Our first set didn’t look like the same team we have been this season. We don’t move our feet or talk to each other.
“We had moments at the net and on service reception. In the end, our failed passes and service attempts really hurt us.
Playing a tough first set is a trend the Lady Pioneers are working to break. Palombo had the same things to say early Monday when his team dug a hole, but they managed to come back late in the evening in Winchester.
“Our first set against North wasn’t fun to watch. We weren’t doing what we basically had to do, make the most of our time on the service line or get the ball to our setter. In the second set, we took a 9-0 lead and then our last two sets looked much better,” Palombo said.
Ali Young was the catalyst behind the run on Monday night, serving his side to an insurmountable lead in the second set. For the night, Young finished with a team-high seven aces (she added two more against White County on Tuesday). Young was also the top passer, delivering three assists against North. Aubrey Oleksik and Sarah Kate Winfree also finished with two wins each (Winfree also added a block).
After Monday’s game, Palombo began to take stock of his team’s standing in the Central Tennessee Conference. The Lady Pioneers beat both Shelbyville Harris and Franklin North, but the team had to scratch and fight their way to both wins. As all groups improve, Coach Palombo believes this is the start of what should be a mad dash to the finish line in the CTC tournament.
“North continues to improve and is the closest I’ve seen to our district on any level since I’ve been coaching. It was a good night of competition for our varsity team,” said the fourth-year coach.
Warren County will have a week off before returning to play Thursday, Sept. 8, at Harris.