Whether it’s volleyball or baseball or basketball, when Muskogee has to match up against Jenks (or Union), it’s more about numbers than it is about talent. And once again the Muskogee volleyball team found that out as they fell to the Lady Trojans 3-0 (25-13, 25-18, 25-17) Tuesday night.
“I think we’re closing the gap talent-wise but we just don’t have the numbers to compete on their level. We’ve got close to 74 kids out in junior high through high school and probably 25 or so that play club here or in Tulsa,” said Muskogee coach John Hammer. “But you look at program like Jenks where they have five or six junior high teams to fill the losses on the high school team and it’s tough.”
But despite the loss, Hammer found a lot of positive intangibles about his young team.
“If you paid attention you saw that this team is really into the game,” he said. “They’re vocal on the bench and for them it’s not about me-me-me, it’s about we-we-we and there’s more of a family feel to this team than I’ve had in the past. They don’t want to let each other down and it shows in their effort.”
With five new players on the front row and 13 of 18 varsity players that have no previous varsity experience, there’s lots of catching up for his crew to do, according to Hammer.
“I thought we played with them point-for-point for two sets but they stayed consistent, didn’t get rattled if they got behind and our inexperience generally got the better of us,” said Hammer.
Muskogee got out in front in the first set 5-3 but Jenks went on a 7-1 run to open up a 10-6 lead which it gradually built on until the final 12 point victory margin,
The Lady Trojans grabbed a 6-1 lead in the second set but Muskogee battled back getting it to 12-10 at one point. But again, Jenks played steady with an ace here and block or kill there and took advantage with a 5-0 run that took them from 16-13 to 21-13 and traded points until they got the win.
The third set was the strongest for Muskogee (3-4) as they battled from behind early to take an 11-8 lead after a Lexie Reynolds block. The set seemed to turn after a long volley that saw the ball back and forth 10 times, certainly the most exciting point of the night, won by the Trojans to make it 11-9 and from there they moved back into a tie. In fact the set was tied three times, the last at 15-15 before Jenks (7-2) won six straight points to take command.
“I have no problem with our effort and our attitude. We’re just playing so hard. We played a top five team tonight and we were competitive. We did some good things. We just have to clean some things up,” said Hammer.
Chloe Lamont led the Lady Roughers with 10 assists. Paige Irwin had 11 digs, seven kills and two aces, Jenna Winters had 10 kills and a pair of aces and Jazzy Henry had six digs and seven assists.
The Lady Roughers will be home against McAlester on Thursday night.