By Nick Hampton
It sounded like a mathematical equation from Muskogee volleyball coach John Hammer. Height and speed equals success.
And that’s the combination that the Union Lady Redskins brought to the Muskogee High School volleyball court Tuesday night as they defeated Muskogee 3-0 (25-13, 25-15, 25-23) in Frontier Conference action.
“Union (6-4, 2-1) plays a fast-paced offense because they’re tall and big,” said Hammer. “So our middles have to understand that they have to react faster against a team like that. I think we were just caught off guard by their height and quickness.”
With three players six feet or taller, Union had a clear advantage over the Lady Roughers, whose tallest player stands 5-11. That edge helped them roll to victory easily in the first two sets.
It looked like Muskogee (5-3, 0-2) was going to rebound in the third set as they jumped out to an 8-2 advantage and maintained a five-to-six point lead well into the set. But then the Lady Roughers, leading 16-11, suffered a setback as standout sophomore Claire Farmer hit her head in a diving effort to save a shot on the back line. After a moment on the floor, Farmer arose to the cheers of the Rougher faithful, but spent the rest of the set on the bench.
“She (Farmer) just hit her head when she dove,” said Hammer. “She’s all right. She just kind of rung her bell for a second.”
From that point on Union chipped away at the Muskogee lead and, after an 11-6 run, tied the set at 22-22. The Lady Roughers re-captured the lead on a block by Madison Hiner, but following a Union timeout, the Lady Redskins rattled off three straight points to win the set and the match.
“Allie Jiles, a freshman and Madison Reavis, a sophomore, both came in and did a great job,” said Hammer. “People have to remember we’re still a pretty young team. I remember looking out there at one point and we had a freshman and four sophomores on the court.”
The match featured two highly ranked teams in the OSSAA Class 6A poll with Union, which fell four places from last week to the No. 8 spot, and the Lady Roughers, who fell one spot after their loss to Jenks, at No. 11in this week’s rankings. But Union’s ranking is a little misleading according to Hammer.
“Sometimes the people who do the rankings look only at the record and not who they’ve played,” said Hammer. “In Union’s case, their losses have come to teams ranked in the top five in the state, so their ranking is a little misleading. I have no problem losing to the good teams as long as we get out on the court and compete and I think we did that tonight.
“The rankings tell us we’re getting respect from other coaches around the state and (Union’s) coach McKee, who I really have a lot of respect for, told me right after the game ‘man you guys are close’. So I think we’re getting there.”
Farmer had 12 kills to pace the Lady Roughers in the match. Alexis Rosson had six digs and six kills, Jiles had six digs, and Reavis had seven assists for Muskogee.
The Lady Roughers will be home for non-conference games Thursday against Putnam City West and Friday against Norman.