CHALMERS — Still a learning process. Still sometimes a struggle.
Eleven matches into the season, Frontier is still finding its right mix and working on how to play with each other. Monday’s sweep against Delphi was just another reminder of the potential the team has, and the work it needs to do.
“I think that we’re starting to realize how to work together. We are still a younger team, and it’s harder for us to figure that out. I think we’re starting to learn to communicate … learning to improve,” senior Abbie Carter said after a 25-15, 25-23, 25-20 win that boosted the Falcons (4-7) a little closer to .500.
Added classmate Payten Hunt, “We’ve learned patience, I think. We’ve had to learn what to work around, to just try and focus and form together as a team.”
A second-set swing pushed Frontier into the forefront for good. The Oracles shot ahead 8-1 on the strength of three Lillie Smith aces and a Haley Nelson block, but the Falcons began a rally down 14-7. Frontier scored seven consecutive points, and later tied the set at 15 on the strength of an Alexis Johnson ace and Olivia Newcom kill.
The team traded points, and the hosts pulled ahead at 20-19 on a Hunt kill. It was deadlocked again at 23 after the Oracles rallied from three down, but a strange play put the Falcons ahead for good. During a volley, Camy Clapper dug the ball lightly. It went over the net, and somehow found a space no Delphi player occupied for a 24-23 edge.
One hitting error later, Frontier found itself up 2-0 after being down as many as eight points in the set.
“We actually sad that to them in the huddle: Earlier in the season, we wouldn’t have been able to come back (in the second set), that we would already have been somewhat defeated,” head coach Becky Segal said. “They found a way to dig deep and come out on top.”
The third set was in Frontier’s grasp from the outset, but it was never out of the realm that the Oracles would battle. A Taylor Walts ace gave the home team a 9-4 lead, but it closed to 9-8.
Hunt reeled off three consecutive aces for a 13-8 advantage, but Delphi closed it to three at 13-10 and 17-14, and then the margin was even thinner at 18-17.
A combination block by Delphi seemed to tie the set on the next play, but the visitors were called for being in the net instead. Gifted a point, Frontier garnered another two for a 21-17 lead. The Oracles closed within 22-20 on a Jordyn Gasser kill, but the home team reeled off three points to close the set and match.
“We tried to remain focused. Sometimes we can get out there and get over-energetic, if that makes sense,” Hunt said. “Our energy rises, and we might lose focus. We have to keep ourselves in check, learn to calm down point-by-point.”
Hunt paved the way with six kills, five aces and eight digs. Carter contributed five aces, five digs and three kills. Newcom added five blocks and four kills.
“We still have some work to do,” Segal said. “It’s a new sectional for us … everything is wide open. We just have to keep working on fundamentals and all the aspects of the game. We’ve got to work and grind it out, and we have a month to do that.”