By Nick Hampton
In volleyball, it’s not how hard you hit it, but where.
Muskogee learned that lesson Tuesday as the dinks and net shots made the difference in a 3-0 loss against Jenks before a packed and boisterous crowd of 300 at MHS’s gym.
The Lady Roughers (5-2) were in every set between the top 10 teams in the OSSAA rankings, but came out on the short end of each, losing 25-22, 25-23, 25-21. Muskogee came in ranked 10th, Jenks (2-0) sixth.
“I told the team after the game I’ve never been prouder of a team in a losing situation than I was tonight,” said a beaming Muskogee coach John Hammer.
“We came out on the short end of the stick tonight but it wasn’t because of lack of effort or execution. It was just two good teams going at it and someone had to lose.”
The first set was typical of the whole match. The Lady Roughers opened a little tight and the Lady Trojans jumped out to an 8-3 lead they eventually stretched to 16-9.
Muskogee fought back to within three at 16-13 before Jenks went on a 6-1 spurt to take command at 22-14. But the Lady Roughers wouldn’t say die and went on an 8-1 run to close it to a 23-22 deficit.
After scoring on a Muskogee service error, Jenks won the set on a serve that hit the top of the net and just trickled over the top.
The second set was much the same. Up 24-23, the Lady Trojans’ ensuing volley hit the top of the net with the ball rolling down the net and falling just in bounds on the Muskogee side for the set point.
“Every set had a little point where it could have gone either way,” said Hammer.
“If we get a break on those we could have been up two sets instead of down. But tonight proved to our players that we can hold our own with these higher-ranked teams.”
Sophomore Claire Farmer had another excellent game with 15 kills and five digs, but Hammer also pointed out the play of senior Brett Allen.
“Brett Allen had the best match of her life,” said the proud coach. “She absolutely passed the ball well and her defense was great.”
The smiling senior, who finished with 11 digs, was very upbeat about the match despite the loss.
“We didn’t win but we did awesome. That is the best that we have ever done and that was one of the loudest and most exciting matches we’ve ever had,” said Allen. “We’re right there. We feel like we’re pretty close to them.”
Other Lady Roughers drawing praise from Hammer included Karla Jones with five kills and two digs, Abby Wayman with eight digs and Jensen Martin with 24 assists.
And that crowd?
“Awesome,” chuckled Hammer. “We had to bring in extra bleachers and we were still full. Our student body and parents are awesome. I think people like to come and watch us play because we play hard and play well and folks appreciate that.”
The Lady Roughers will get another chance to stand up to one of the premier teams in the state as they host No. 4 ranked Union in their next outing next Tuesday.