Lady Mustangs overcome key absences to defeat Lone Oak
On Friday, the Chisum Lady Mustangs learned two of their starters would not be on the court. Both senior libero Kaci Williams (illness) and junior outside hitter Emmy Williams (minor injury) missed Chisum’s district contest against Lone Oak. With that, the rest of the team had to help the Lady Mustangs overcome key absences in this match.
“Both Emmy and Kaci are my two most vocal girls — they talk constantly on the court,” Lady Mustangs head volleyball coach Laura Nickerson said. “Kaci and Emmy are talking on every single point. We just needed to adjust and learn who would be our vocal leader out there on the floor.”
Despite missing the services of two of their key players, the home team’s supporting cast helped the Lady Mustangs overcome key absences and take down Lone Oak. Chisum recorded its third district win with a four-set victory over the Lady Buffaloes. The Lady Mustangs won the match by a final score of 22-25, 25-18, 25-9, and 25-20.
Overcoming the dilemma with youth
“If you give these girls a task, they’re going to go out and compete,” Nickerson said. “Sometimes this season, it has been a rollercoaster and things haven’t always come out like we’ve wanted them to. But, we keep working hard and it shows. The younger players never question or doubt anything. Instead, they’ve stepped up when we’ve needed them to. I’ve moved Emma (Garner) from outside to right-side to middle, and she performs every time she’s on the court. The same goes for Brylea Marshall. She performs whether she’s our libero or in the front row. These girls go out there and play well without any doubt.”
Nickerson needed help from her younger players to secure the win and her underclassmen responded. The growing confidence and experience gained by Chisum’s younger players helped prepare them for the moment.
“It’s important because if your coach tells you to go in and play for a person, then you’ve got to be ready,” Chisum freshman Emma Garner said. “At the beginning of the year, I wasn’t doing as good as I could be. Since I’ve started playing on varsity, I’ve improved so much.”
Additional help from the upperclassmen
The upperclassmen were also integral to the win over Lone Oak. Whether it was from the opening serve or later in the match, the Lady Mustangs received the leadership they needed as the match progressed.
“I always try to be a leader and be mindful of the fact that I’m a role model to the younger kids,” Lady Mustangs junior setter Kelsea Ball said. “I just try to be the best I can be.”
“With Chloe Prestridge, she was kind of beating herself up. I kept telling her to quit focusing on the negative and focus more on her positives,” Nickerson said. “If you dwell on the negative, then that’s all you’re going to see. I told her to look at the things she was doing right. Her serves were going in and I reminded her that the timing would come with her hitting.”
After Chisum dropped the first set of the match, the shock of not having Kaci or Emmy Williams was over. The Lady Mustangs got into gear quickly.
Sophomore outside hitter Peyton Holland hammered back to back kills to give Chisum a 13-12 lead in the second set. A few points later, she pummeled two more balls to the court to restore Chisum’s two-point lead at 16-14. Then, Prestridge recorded consecutive aces to make it a 21-16 advantage for the home team. A big kill from Garner stretched the lead to 22-17 after Lone Oak cut the deficit to four. Finally, sophomore setter Carly Bell aced the Lady Buffaloes to complete a victorious second set.
Serving up a recipe for success
Big kills and several timely aces helped Chisum dominate the third set. The Lady Mustangs’ service game proved to be crucial in their home match against Lone Oak. As a team, Chisum served 20 aces.
“Getting serves over really helps with the game intensity,” Ball said. “If you get three aces in a row, you already have the momentum to start the game out strong. Good serving can also keep defenses off balance and our serves really helped us in this game.”
In the fourth set, Prestridge, Holland, Garner, and Zoe England made several big plays to help Chisum obtain an 18-10 lead. The Lady Buffaloes called a timeout and cut the deficit to 19-14, but two emphatic kills in a row from Prestridge increased the Lady Mustangs’ lead to 21-14. Lone Oak got as close as 23-20 late but kills from Holland and England closed out the match in Mustang Gymnasium.
Holland led Chisum with 10 kills, 10 digs, and 1 ace, while Garner had a team-high 12 kills. Prestridge compiled 8 kills and 8 aces, while England registered 7 kills and 1 ace. Brylea Marshall stepped in at the libero spot and delivered 14 digs and 3 aces. Ball poured in 18 assists, 7 digs, and 5 aces in the win. Bell tallied 15 assists, 8 digs, and 2 aces.
The Lady Mustangs will take the court again at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Prairiland. For more sports coverage, click here.