MW VOLLEYBALL: Lady Jays struggle in season openerWORTHINGTON — The Minnesota West Lady Jays volleyball team struggled in their first game of the season, falling 3-0 to the Rochester Yellowjackets Wednesday night in Worthington.
By: Jordan Willi, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — The Minnesota West Lady Jays volleyball team struggled in their first game of the season, falling 3-0 to the Rochester Yellowjackets Wednesday night in Worthington.
“I think we definitely had first game jitters,” Lady Jays coach Marie Johnson said. “We were a little bit slow to come out in the beginning. We weren’t talking and at times we had a little bit of confusion on the court.”
Game 1 stayed close until the Yellowjackets strung together a six-point run to take a 13-6 lead over the Lady Jays. Minnesota West struggled to get back into the game and were never able to come within more than four points of the Rochester lead.
“It was a little different because we aren’t practicing in this gym, so even the setting was a little bit different at the beginning of the game,” Johnson said. “We definitely stepped it up and started playing more of our own game about midway through that first game.”
Rochester tried to finish the first game when they took their first shot at a game point with Minnesota West trailing by eight. But the Lady Jays avoided the first game point with a kill from their front line. However, the Yellowjackets got a kill of their own on the next play to end the game, winning 25-17.
“We were stuck in the mud,” Lady Jays middle hitter Brittany Hulstein said. “We weren’t ready and we weren’t cutting off their hard cross.”
Rochester jumped out to an early three-point lead in Game 2 and would never trail the rest of the game. The Lady Jays were not able to convert on their chances and allowed the Yellowjackets to take advantage and increase their lead to 16-10.
“Rochester is a really smart team, so they were putting the ball where we weren’t,” Johnson said. “We need to make sure we can pick those up and keep our feet moving constantly.”
Once again, Rochester failed to convert on their first game point, knocking the ball out of bounds to give Minnesota West one more chance to make a comeback. The Lady Jays couldn’t muster any more points and the Yellowjackets got their final point, winning Game 2, 25-17.
“We definitely got some touches on the blocks and that definitely slowed them down some,” Johnson said. “We need to really concentrate on moving our feet constantly. There were times that we got caught standing or went to the spot we thought they were going to go.”
Things started to look up when the Lady Jays took a 4-1 lead early in Game 3, but the Yellowjackets tied the game at six only a few plays later.
“The last game we really concentrated on playing our own game and wiping out those first two,” Johnson said. “Even in that third game we were planning on going to five.”
The two teams stayed close for the rest of the game, but Rochester used three-straight points to build a 24-17 lead and grab their first chance at a match point.
The Lady Jays were able to stem off defeat when the Yellowjackets knocked the ball out of bounds, but Rochester finished off Minnesota West on the next play with a kill from the front line. Rochester won Game 3, 25-18.
“We need to talk a lot more,” Hulstein said. “There is a little bit of separation between some of the girls and we need to bond more.”
The Lady Jays play a doubleheader Friday in St. Cloud against the St. Cloud Tech Cyclones at 4:30 p.m. and then will play the Central Lake College Raiders following the first game.
Minnesota West’s next home game is Sept. 12 against the Ridgewater Warriors at 6:30 p.m.