A hot start and some fortunate bounces were the recipe for victory for the Carson City-Crystal Eagles, as they took down the Montabella Mustangs at home 3-0.
The crowd was plentiful Tuesday night on Montabella’s home court, but they couldn’t rally their team to a victory. The Eagles got off to a blazing hot start scoring the first seven points before Montabella scored its first point.
The points were in large part thanks to sophomore outside hitter Hannah Taeter, who scored six aces on the night. Even with her great performance, CC-C head coach Lauren Taylor knows she can get even better.
“She’s one of our strongest servers. She works hard,” Taylor said. “I would like to see her serves get a little bit harder and more aggressive, but she’s working at that and it keeps getting better and better.”
Taylor was satisfied with her team’s win, but even in victory, she knows her team has more left in the tank.
“I’ve seen them play at higher levels before, so this was actually kind of a lower-paced play for us,” Taylor said. “We just really need to pick up the talking and the communication even when the vibe isn’t there.”
After starting the game on a high note, the Eagles ended the game on a similar high note, scoring the last seven points of the game to make it a convincing 25-11 victory in game one.
In game two, Montabella quickly overcame the game one loss and took an early lead. CC-C took the lead back at 4-3, but after some close back and forth play throughout the set, Montabella reclaimed the lead at 15-14.
While still leading at 19-16, there was a large delay in the game due to a rotation error. The officials took over five minutes to sort out the discrepancy, and when play resumed, CC-C capitalized.
Needing to rally for a 2-0 lead, they took advantage of the delay and scored the final nine points of the set to win the game 25-19. It was a big turning point in the match for both teams.
“When that kind of stuff happens, we just come together and shake it off as a team and then push through it,” Taylor said. “I think they used it to encourage themselves to get back up.”
Montabella head coach Max Simon didn’t blame the delay on why the Mustangs lost the game. Instead, he pointed to a series of missteps.
“I don’t think the delay mentally affected them,” Simon said. “I think it came down to if we make one mistake or one player doesn’t step up and take charge, we’re all eyeballing (each other). That is our Achilles heel until we trust and play with each other.”
Game three was another tight one with Montabella controlling the majority of it, however, CC-C took the lead at 17-16 and never looked back. The Eagles won the final four points to close out the game 25-20 and win the match 3-0.
Simon’s Montabella squad showed some fight by improving in each game, but they ultimately came up short. The head coach was happy with his player’s performance against a good squad, but knows they have to get better to compete.
“We have a conversation about talking with your mouth and not with your eyes,” Simon said. “When they start just eyeballing each other, they get really slow at making decisions.”
For the Mustangs, communication is a big area of concern and something they look to improve on.
“We always work on communication,” Simon said. “It’s self-faith and the ability to believe ‘if I throw myself at this, good things are going to happen.’”
A standout on the Eagles side was senior setter Sydney Evans, who led her team with a remarkable 20 assists. Always setting up her teammates for great hits, Evans said she was seeing the court well and her team was communicating great.
“When we all just work as a team and talk, and when we get down and start talking again it just makes us better,” Evans said.
CC-C had its fair share of scoring streaks in Tuesday’s victory, and have learned to ride that momentum for as long as possible.
“When we get on a move we just go with it,” Evans said.
Evans also had the only two blocks on the night for the Eagles. Her teammate, junior libero Megan Dailey, led the squad in digs with 13.
For the Mustangs, Simon noted sophomore Brooklynn Knopf was a standout in the match. He pointed out her receptiveness to coaching and her great attitude on and off the court.
“That type of player really will excel,” Simon said. “She’s still got two more years so she’ll be a star someday.”
Knopf lead her team with eight kills and four blocks on the night. Leading the Mustangs in digs was senior Taylor Peabody with 26. The assists leader for the Mustangs was Joie Kade with eight.
With the win, CC-C’s record goes to 9-8-3. Conversely, Montabella drops to 3-13-2 with the loss.
Next up for the CC-C Eagles is a conference matchup at home against Coleman at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. The Mustangs will travel to St. Louis for an invitational at 8 a.m. Saturday.