By Nick Hampton
The Ponca City Lady Wildcats were just what the doctor ordered for the weary Muskogee Lady Roughers volleyball team.
After 11 matches in the last week including a somewhat disappointing weekend tournament, Muskogee snapped a five-game losing streak by beating Ponca City 3-1 (25-14, 22-25, 25-14, 25-9) Thursday night at the girl’s gym.
“It’s been a long two weeks,” said Muskogee head coach John Hammer. “Even if you love something, if you do it all the time, you get tired of it.”
“We’ve had a really tough schedule, but you can’t get better if you don’t play the best. I’d rather suffer a few losses to good teams than be 30-0 against lesser competition.”
Just about all of the teams Muskogee has lost to have been ranked in the top 15 in their respective classes.
The Lady Roughers (13-9) jumped out to a 6-3 lead in the first set with Claire Farmer contributing three aces. Ponca City (5-11) fought back to take an 8-7 lead. But with sophomore Shanna Logan knocking down a couple of kills, Muskogee went on a 13-2 run to jump ahead 20-10 and eventually closed out the set.
“I thought we played pretty solid tonight,” said Hammer. “We had a momentum shift in the second set and let them back in, but we came back and really took over the match after that.”
The second set was nip and tuck with neither team leading by more than a couple of points. But with the Lady Roughers hanging on to a 22-21 lead, Ponca City came back with a kill by Abby Knittle, a block by Tate Fezer, an ace by Libby Frees, and two mis-hits by Muskogee to capture the set.
The loss seemed to spark Muskogee as they jumped out to a 9-0 advantage in the third set with Farmer serving up four straight aces and getting a kill in that stretch. The Lady Wildcats did manage to get back to trail 16-13. But Muskogee went on a 9-1 tear to close the set. The fourth set was a walk for Muskogee as they again got out of the gate fast with a 7-0 lead and Ponca City never got closer than that.
Farmer paced the Lady Roughers with 20 kills and nine digs. Logan had 11 kills and then there’s setter Jensen Martin who had 32 assists.
“Everyone knows that Claire gets most of the publicity and she’s a great player,” said Hammer. “But someone’s got to give her the ball and someone’s got to pass the ball to the setter. It’s a team effort.”
For her part, the junior Martin knows and understands her role.
“I see myself as a good leader and without a good setter and a positive attitude, we wouldn’t function the way that we do,’ said Martin. “Even though I know I don’t get the glory that the hitters do, I still know that my role is important and so I’m not going to give up.”
Muskogee can avenge one of its recent losses when they host Sequoyah, ranked No. 4 in Class 4A, on Monday.