BURLINGTON JUNCTION, Mo. — The West Nodaway Rockets knew that this season would have its challenges with such a young team. After taking a season-opening loss to Rock Port, the Rockets bounced back to take the match to three sets Thursday night against Mound City. The Panthers prevailed to win the third set.
“The first set was rough, but I definitely think they got a lot better as a team today,” Rockets coach Selina Talmadge said. “It’s a new year, new rotation and it’s been hard to adjust to. But I think we definitely saw today that they adjusted to that, overcame a lot of obstacles and found some ways where they’re going to work together.”
The Panthers had their way with West Nodaway in the first set. Mound City held the Rockets to 14 points in the win.
“That first game we didn’t talk, it was silent out there,” Talmadge said. “Communication, I mean they can play volleyball any day, they can hit the ball but like I told them in the locker room, we can prepare for a lot of things but I can’t get out there and tell the other team what to do.”
The second set looked as though it would go much like the first. The Rockets found themselves down 11-4 and all of the momentum going Mound City’s way. But West Nodaway turned the tide, going on a 7-4 run to make the score 15-11 and leading to Panther timeout.
The run continued for the Rockets, who took a 17-15 lead with a point from Lexi Moore. Mound City then scored two straight. The two squads battled back-and-forth and found themselves tied at 21. Reagan Hagey took control from there with three-straight serves leading to points. West Nodaway went on to win 25-22.
“We definitely stepped up our performance, our attitudes, talking on the floor and getting the ball over the net,” said Sophomore Riley Linville.
West Nodaway kept hold of the momentum going into the third set. Three kills from Linville helped the Rockets jump out to a 6-1 lead over the Panthers.
The Rockets led by as many as six early in the third set (9-3), but their lead slowly dwindled away. Mound City took advantage of mistakes made on the part of West Nodaway.
Talmadge took a timeout after the Panthers cut the lead to two. Mound City made the score 12-11 before Linville’s spike made it a two-point lead. The lead held until the Panthers’ Dara Young tied the score at 14 with a kill.
The two squads again traded leads until Mound City pulled out to an 18-16 lead. The Rockets again came roaring back with three straight to regain the lead.
The Panthers and West Nodaway traded runs of three straight, until a kill from Moore tied the match at 21. Mound City closed the set by scoring four of the five final points, going on to win 25-22. The lone point scored on that run came on Linville’s eighth kill of the night.
“I was nervous, but I definitely had some good hits and I think I’ve improved from game one to game two,” Linville said.
Moore was second on the team with six kills. Hagey led the Rockets with five assists and Abby Bragg was second with four. Hagey and Moore combined for seven aces in the loss to Mound City.
The Rockets will get back on the court this weekend at the East Atchison Tournament in Tarkio. Talmadge hopes to see continued improvement from her team.
“As they’re picking each other up, they’re all getting better,” Talmadge said. “We can always improve on everything else, we can improve on serving, but as we communicate, it helps all of the other aspects.”