Sept. 28, 2019 — It was a big week for the Sailors this week as the volleyball team played a number of games, including one against their longtime rival, Triangle Lake. But it was an early evening match Tuesday night on the road that the team crossed one of its biggest hurdles of the season — After 12 straight losses, the young team won its first match.
It happened Tuesday night during a double-header at Crow against Oak Hill.
The early game started off strong for the Sailors, who handily won their first set 25-17. The second set was a loss, but a close one, 22-25.
The Sailors didn’t let the loss drain their momentum, battling it out in the third set in a taut game that was tied up at 24-24. Mapleton was able to keep Oak Hill scoreless for the next two exchanges to narrowly win the set, 26-24.
It was the first time the Sailors had won two sets in a match, which seemed to fuel them toward a decisive 25-17 win to take the set and the match.
Though the Sailors lost their next match of the evening to Crow, the enthusiasm of their first win carried over Thursday night in a battle at home with longtime rival, Triangle Lake.
Before the game began, as always, the Sailors turned off the pregame music and ran into the locker room. Moments later, the ground began to shake as the team stomped and sang as loud as they could.
“It the school song,” Sailors head coach Molly Dooley said. “A little pump-it-up cheer. A tradition. It gets them excited.”
And then the team came streaming out, determined. When the lineup was announced via loudspeaker, the Sailors shook hands with the Lakers, many of whom were friends off the court.
But when the whistle opened the game, it was nothing but steely stares between the two teams.
The first set started with a near perfect game of technical volleyball. Each team communicated well, with long volleys that got the crowd and Dooley smiling. But about a quarter into the set, the Lakers began to pull ahead as the Sailors began making mistakes. The ball was either too low for the net, or players would get confused on where the ball would be.
“We were making mistakes like the ball dropping between two people,” said Dooley. “They needed to relax and get the nerves out.”
By the second set, the nerves were out. The Sailors came out firing with Briena Jensen serving a group of aces to propel Mapleton into a 4-0 lead over the Lakers. Triangle Lake regrouped and fought back, tying the set 12-12. A tense series of volleys followed, with the two teams keeping fairly even toward a 21-21 score. From there, the Sailors dug in and shut the Lakers out, taking the second set 25-21.
The pace continued into the third set, with the Sailors keeping the score tight through the first half. It wasn’t until later in the set that the Lakers began to pull away, winning 25-18.
But still, the Sailors refused to give up.
“Whoever you play is not going to want to go down easy,” Dooley said heading into the fourth set. After falling behind at first, the Sailors rallied to tie the set at 14-14. But a few errors and a slip on the floor found the Sailors eventually lose ground, eventually falling to the Lakers 19-25.
Still, with a win now under their belts and well played games like the Lakers match, the Sailors have nothing to hang their head about.
“They kept coming up to me saying, ‘This is so much fun!’ Dooley said. “I think it was a really good fight at the end and it was just a great game between two teams that are really improving.”
Mapleton will be back on the court Tuesday, on the road at Mohawk, beginning at 6 p.m.