Waelder forced too many self-inflicted errors in Tuesday’s district match against Prairie Lea as the Lady Wildcats found themselves in holes too big to dig out of in their four-set loss, (25-22, 25-16, 20-25, 25-20).
“We’re young,” first-year head coach Rachel Tucker said. “I’ve got two juniors and pretty much the rest of them are freshmen. I’ve got two juniors, two sophomores and now I’m sitting on six freshmen. That’s hard for us.”
Waelder started games slow, giving up five straight points in the first set before scoring, going down 8-2 in the second set and even down 7-2 in the third set. Too many times the Lady Cats allowed Prairie Lea to run off multiple points without answering back themselves.
“Part of what the problem is, we’re hard on ourselves,” Tucker said. “So when we make a mistake, we snowball it into several mistakes. Unfortunately, with rally scoring, you can’t do that. We’ve got to learn to be able to put the brakes on, regroup, and do better the next time. Forget about the play we screwed up on, and move on to the next one.”
Despite the large gaps, the Lady Cats did manage to cut the leads in all of the sets they played. Down 10-4, The Lady Cats managed to lose the first set by three. Down 8-2 in the second set, the Lady Cats tied the game at 12, but ultimately lost by nine.
“Some nights we fill that hole with water,” Tucker joked, “but some nights we rally. Inconsistency is what I mean by that. We don’t know how to dig our heels in consistently. We may have that great run and we get back in the game, and then we stub our toe and then we let it go back down. Then we got to dig ourselves back out.”
Down 7-2 early, Waelder took their first lead of the night with a 10-0 run before the visiting Lady Arrows finally scored. The Lady Cats kept the lead throughout, winning the third set 25-20.
But in the third set up 17-12, Prairie Lea would end the night on a 13-3 run, winning the fourth set 25-20.
Players that stuck out Tuesday included Jahkia Thompson with her serving and hitting and Maely Bracamontes who knocked knees with a teammate in the third set, but was able to return to finish the game.
“Jakhia’s serves were amazing,” Tucker said. “We’ve never spot served before and every one of those that she put, I was telling her were to put it and she was doing it. So that’s huge for us, because they didn’t even know what that was before I got here. For us to be able to do that? That’s amazing.”
“Maely [Bracamontes] hurt herself,” the Waelder coach added, “banged her knee pretty hard. ‘I can go back in,’ and she can’t even run down the sidelines. We have that fight, it’s just a matter of channeling it all to everybody at the same time. Those two did a great job.”
Due to the size of the district, the Waelder Lady Cats automatically has a seat in the Class 1A volleyball playoffs. However, Tucker believes the team needs to not be complacent with their game, especially up front with their attacks.
“I’d like to see us attack more,” she said. “We get some sets and we’re intimidated or we’re not sure that we can make the play. I would rather them hit it as hard as they can into the net or hit the back wall as long as they were swinging at it, and they don’t understand that. Sometimes we play too safe. I think when you get a team backed up like we did, you just keep going and going and we didn’t do that.”
Waelder hosts Louise on Friday and Shiner at home on Tuesday, Oct. 22 with both games set at 5 p.m.