The Madisonville Lady Mustangs volleyball team began their regular season slate with a number of matchups at a tournament in Franklin and a loss to Iola on Friday at MHS.
“It is still early and we are trying out some different rotations,” said head coach Kristen Hooten after Friday’s loss. “We played three games (in Franklin on Thursday) and played really good the first game, really bad the second and a mixture in the third.”
Friday’s contest was another mixed bags of results for the Lady Mustangs as they welcomed the Iola Bulldogs to MHS for their home opener. Iola took the contest in straight sets, but had to fight off late comebacks by the Lady Mustangs in the last two matches. Madisonville’s late rallies were damaged by missed serves, which allowed the Bulldogs to hold on.
“That is a momentum killer and an experience thing,” said Hooten. “We have a few girls that are playing key positions who have never been on varsity before. That is always a big deal because the speed of the game is way faster. We will be fine as long as we do not lay down and quit on teams like that. One thing we need to really focus on is being consistent from start to finish.”
The Bulldogs ran away from Madisonville down the stretch of the first set to earn a 25-15 victory. A 10-4 Iola run allowed them to build a commanding lead after the Lady Mustangs fought back from an early deficit.
Madisonville spent the majority of the second set making up a 12-5 deficit. Back-to-back blocks by Grace Williamson and Reagan Olvera helped allow the Lady Mustangs to ultimately cut the deficit to two points late. However, Iola would hold on for a 25-21 victory by securing the final two points.
The Bulldogs would build another commanding lead early in the third set. The Lady Mustangs attempted to fight back from an 11-5 deficit, but were hindered by missed serves and a pair of violations in the net area. Iola completed the victory in straight sets with a 25-18 win in game three.
“We did some good things and we did some not so good things,” said Hooten. “Right now, we have six people on the court, not a whole team. We just haven't gelled together yet, but it is early. The focus right now is on finding a rotation that works and works best for us.”
The Lady Mustangs finished off the tournament in Franklin with a total record of 3-2, which was good enough to win the event’s silver bracket.
Madisonville was 1-2 on Thursday in Franklin with a win over Burton and losses to Thrall and Bremond. They picked up a pair of victories on Saturday over Somerville and Burton to win their bracket.
Madisonville’s roster in littered with returning players and boasts a total of eight juniors and two seniors. It is Hooten’s second season at the helm and she has already recognized a number of improvements heading into the new season.
“We spent a lot of time on the court and in the weight room just focusing on fundamentals last year,” said Hooten. “But I think we are way better with that this year. We could never run a quick offense because our passing was not good enough. I think we have improved tremendously in that area. The girls also know what my expectations are. I think two-a-days was night and day from last year. We have grown a lot and we are better than we were.”
The Lady Mustangs returned to the court on Tuesday to take on Lovelady at MHS. They will compete in a tournament in Leon on Thursday and Saturday.