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Rugby can’t hold on after winning first game

By Staff | Oct 11, 2013

Chris Bieri/PCT Rugby’s Helen Johnson stretches to get a spike by a Velva player as the two teams played a regional match on Oct. 8 in Rugby.

The Rugby High School volleyball team cruised to an opening-game win against Velva on Oct. 8.

But Panthers head coach Jessica Fritz said her team played against the jerseys instead of the opponent the rest of the way in falling 3-1 (25-15, 23-25, 24-26, 18-25).

“I think it’s Velva,” Fritz said. “It’s that mental game that we’re playing with ourselves right now. We showed in the first game they’re a beatable team, granted they didn’t play as well as they did the last three games. I think we just have to tell ourselves we can do it and we just have to do it and finish the game.”

Rugby was in charge during the first game but Velva grabbed a lead in game 2 and forced Rugby to play from behind.

But the Panthers did just that and battled back with opportunities to win the game late.

Chris Bieri/PCT Rugby’s Elizabeth Blessum celebrates after the Panthers won a big point against Velva on Oct. 8 in Rugby.

The same was true in the third game as Rugby had chances to win the game late, but couldn’t get the big point.

Darby Deckert led the Panthers with nine kills on the match, and Fritz said she’s responded since being moved to the net.

“We’ve moved Darby up and put her at an outside hitter,” she said. “Her presence on the court has been helpful. She constantly has a positive attitude.”

Emily Stier added six kills and Allison Volk had 21 assists.

Fritz said the team’s serving has improved in past weeks, but the Panthers will need a well-rounded game to win at tournament time.

“Our serving is progressively getting better, maybe not at the accuracy we’d like,” she said. “We can’t rely on our serving to win matches. We have to play defensively and have all-around games.”

On Oct. 3, the Panthers lost a tightly-contested road game against Westhope-Newburg 3-2.

Rugby dominated the second game 25-13 and the fourth game 25-12, but fell 15-12 in game 5.

“Westhope-Newburg was a roller-coaster ride,” Fritz said. “When we played well, we played well. We were unbeatable but when we started to struggle just a little bit, it showed. We are a really good tournament team, and I hope we show that at the end of the season.”

Stier (10 kills) and Deckert (7 kills) paced the Panthers’ offense as Elziabeth Blessum and Helen Johnson led the back row with eight digs apiece.

Fritz said her team is continuing to focus on improvement with district tournaments on the horizon.

“We don’t want to peak until the end of our season anyway,” she said, “It’d be nice to have the whole season at a peak, but most mountain ranges aren’t that long.”

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