Sides of befuddlement evened.
On one bench, the visiting team held a pleased version of unclear thought as Frontier rallied from a deficit as large as five points in the second set against Twin Lakes for the set victory.
On the other, the hosts’ held a not-so-pleased version as the Indians dropped four consecutive set points in an effort to even the match. Then Stephanie Thompson’s team dropped the match to Becky Segal’s Falcons (6-8) in a 25-23, 26-24, 25-19 Frontier sweep.
“We’ve talked about this a lot,” Segal said. “Those situations where we lose the momentum, early on in the season we never would have gotten it back. They have just figure out how to come together as a team and really dig deep and come out of those situations.”
Thompson had a sit-down chat with her team after the match ended, right on their home floor.
“The second set, we should have finished. They have got to learn how to finish that last point,” she said. “We’re still struggling (with that). We can’t be at 24-(20) and then let them have the game. They’ve got to figure out ... a lot of mental mistakes on that run.”
A quick burst of two kills and an Alaina Wolfe ace pushed the Indians (3-11) ahead, 21-17. After the Falcons climbed within 21-18, Grace Fry and Ayanna Thompson produced consecutive kills for a five-point advantage.
Thompson’s kill came after a roughly 20-second rally by the schools.
Again, Frontier pulled within three — and Thompson gave Twin Lakes a shot at a match tie with a kill for a 24-20 score.
Segal called a timeout, with the basic premise of her talk being “Relax. Take it a point at a time,” she said.
Payten Hunt earned a kill for a three-point deficit, then an Indians hitting error and a Hunt ace forced Thompson to call a timeout. Hunt added another ace after the break in action to tie the set at 24 and send the visiting fanbase into frenzy. Another hitting error gave the visiting team its first lead since the middle of the set.
Camy Clapper closed out the six-point run with a kill.
“We just stuck together, and even though we were down that many points, we still stuck with it,” said Hunt, who netted a match-best eight kills. “Sometimes we’re bad about getting down and staying down, and tonight we worked on it. Even though we were down, we got back up and fought for it.”
Several mistakes, including four service errors and a handful of attack errors in the set, keyed coach Thompson’s frustration.
“We make a lot of errors on … like on a third-ball free ball. We’re giving them a free ball, why are we hitting — why are we pushing that ball out (of bounds)? Why are we missing four serves in the second set?” she said. “They just mentally … they’re still working on letting (things) go.
“Everybody makes mistakes. They just have to learn how to let it go. It’s big for the next ball to come to them, to call for it. Shake it off.”
Twin Lakes put together its own rally in the final frame, after coach Thompson took a timeout staring at a 15-5 deficit.
Grace Fry’s kill began a nine-point rally, with six kills, a block and an ace aiding in the effort to pull within 15-14. Emma Novaski’s ace punctuated the run, with three kills from Sadie Gritten as the key.
The Falcons, however, scored four of the next five points to maintain their advantage. Ayanna Thompson and Gritten collected consecutive kills for a 19-17 deficit, then it was 20-18 on a hitting error.
But an inadvertent dig on Frontier’s side went over the net and — mystifyingly to the home fanbase — fell to the ground unimpeded to start a Falcons’ four-point run for a 24-18 lead.
A service error held elimination off for Twin Lakes, but Abbie Carter dropped the last of her four kills to end the set and match. Carter, Clapper and Taylor Walts each accounted for four kills to back up Hunt’s offensive production.
“I think tonight we played the best we could, possibly,” Hunt said. “It’s a rivalry. We made sure to work hard, and always tried to fight to get back up.”
Coach Thompson vacillated between pursed lips and a slight frown several minutes after the match.
“We fought back on that first (set) to catch back up, and then we let them go. All night, catch up, and let them go,” she said. “Then for us to be down 15-5 (in the third) and come back is huge.
“But they can’t wait to start getting engaged. I don’t know what the answer is.”
The Indians accrued 25 kills, with Fry and Gritten garnering five apiece and Ayanna Thompson collecting six. Gritten also had three aces.
Clapper also had a block, one of two, while Alexis Johnson added six aces and 13 assists. Carter snagged five assists.
“I just thought that was the best they have competed and played as a team all season long,” Segal said. “I would have said that Thursday against Clinton Prairie, even though we lost. Now we’ve done even better. We have to just keep moving on up.”
Twin Lakes drops four matches at Harrison Invitational
The Indians went 0-4 Saturday in Lafayette at the Harrison Invitational, but were without Gritten because of injury and middle blocker Kadence Clay because of a band performance. Twin Lakes (3-10) lost in three sets to Rochester and Pioneer.
For the tournament, Ayanna Thompson collected 16 kills, three aces, 41 assists and 30 digs. Abbi Burns picked up 48 digs, adding four aces. Fry (12 kills) and Maddie Putman (seven kills) aided the offense, while Novaski contributed 19 digs and six aces.