Woodward-Granger volleyball’s lead in the fourth set against the ACGC Chargers vanished in an instant. The Hawks went from an 18-14 lead to down 24-21 with the match on the line on their home court Tuesday, Sept. 10.
With a powerful kill attempt that toed the line for W-G, the call went in the Hawks’ favor to keep the night alive despite a minute of protest from their guests. That was enough to swing momentum to the Hawks to tie it up at 23-23 but like much of the night, ACGC star sophomore Chloe Largent couldn’t be contained as she drove in the dagger for the 25-23 match as the Chargers left Woodward with a 3-1 win to stay undefeated.
Meanwhile, the Hawks look to get their mojo and hold on to it, something they only found midway through Tuesday night, coming short at the front end of the event. W-G head coach Bailey Hunt said finding and holding a rhythm regardless of their opponent will be a key factor moving forward.
“I think if we start off really well, they can play that way throughout the whole game. But if they don’t start off with a huge kill at the beginning, that’s when I feel like the energy is kind of lower.”
After starting out the night with a 12-9 lead thanks to dominant performance up front from Elly Polichand Emma Drake leading the way with a handful of kills, a number of Hawks errors led to a 27-25 loss in the first set.
That was followed by a 25-21 loss with the closest score at 23-21, once again led by a string of Polich and Drake highlights with Natalie Weaver making a name in the late moments as well.
It wasn’t until the third set with a shutout match on the line that it all came together for the Hawks as they had their most dominant series of the year. Led by a couple of diving saves from W-G libero Darby Nixon, the Hawks handed ACGC its biggest loss of the season. Hunt said she accredits the win to the team having only five errors while the first two losses had nine a pop. The team aims for no more than seven per set.
“Communications might be what’s leading to the errors,” Hunt suggested.
W-G’s momentum held for a time in the fourth set up 21-18 but a number of sets into the net turned the tide to ACGC’s favor.
Before the four sets Tuesday, W-G went through a wringer of five matches at a tournament in ADM on Thursday. Collectively in the last week, the Hawks had 17 sets since then and over the course of the season, stand at 5-9. While the number of games may seem difficult, Hunt said the team now needs to get prepared for the more relaxed schedule coming up.
“Since the start in the last week and a half, we had 14 games,” Hunt said. “So that’s been them having to push through being tired and all that. That’s the biggest thing. They almost drive more energy when they’re tired because they know that that’s what they need to win the game.”
With so much of the season behind the team already, Hunt said players are becoming more accustomed to their roles as players like Weaver are returning from injury and Polich adapts to her multi-faceted role.
“Elly’s got a lot of responsibility on her and she takes it really well,” Hunt said. “Because she sets for us in the back and she’s our outside hitter. So there’s not a lot of people you’ll find that do that. But she did. She does a really good job at it and she’s a good leader for our team.”
And as a team, despite the losing record, Hunt said she thinks the team is moving forward well and has already been battle-tested.
“I think we’re getting there because a lot of times you can learn more from a loss (than) you can with a win.”