MONROE — There wasn’t much Prairie City-Monroe volleyball coach liked about her team’s performance in the opening set of a Heart of Iowa Conference match with South Hamilton on Monday night.
A little adjustment and a motivational speech from Samson helped turned the tide in the second set, but inconsistencies in their play and the inability to figure out the Hawks’ serve proved to be too much to overcome during a three-set loss.
The Hawks dominated the opening set. That set the tone early and the visitors controlled the rest of the match during a 25-9, 25-20, 25-16 win.
South Hamilton finished with 11 aces, and got several more points off tough serves that PCM couldn’t control in a positive way. The Hawks were 69-of-73 in serves on the night.
“It’s that short serve again. I don’t know what is going on. We practice, practice and practice it some more, and they look good in practice,” Samson said. “When we get to the game, it’s just frustrating because you can’t lose games because of a serve receive. That’s a lot of our troubles right now though.”
It wasn’t the only issue for the Mustangs (9-15 overall, 1-4 in the HOIC) on Monday night. But it starts everything, and South Hamilton kept PCM out of system the entire night.
“If you can’t get a good pass to your setter, it’s going to be a long night,” Samson said. “We were out of system a lot, which forces us out of our stuff.”
The Hawks jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the opening set and was never challenged after that.
Samson made a change to her lineup in the second set, switching back to a 5-1 formation from the 6-2 she had been using in recent matches.
The Mustangs played better after the change and led by three points early two different times early in the set.
The tide turned back in the Hawks’ favor went the Mustangs couldn’t get a side out against Anna Moss’ serve. Moss dialed up back-to-back aces to tie it. From there, it was tied four more times before South Hamilton (16-8, 2-3) used a small run to gain an advantage.
PCM got within one three different times, but South Hamilton finished off the set with four straight points.
“I thought we turned the corner a bit in game two, and I felt good about how we played,” Samson said. “There was a little bit more want and determination. I kind of lit a fire under their butts a little bit. It seemed to work in that set. There was one rotation where we let them serve a few too many times.”
Samson stuck with the 5-1 in the third but got mixed results. The Mustangs led 3-1 early but South Hamilton rallied to go up 10-5. The Hawks’ maintained at least a two-point lead the rest of the way and finished off the sweep with a 4-0 run that extended the lead to 18-11.
Junior Maddie Samson came in the match with 111 kills. The next closest teammate is junior Avery Stock’s 36. But the Mustangs couldn’t get the ball to Maddie Samson enough at the net in the loss.
Part of that is South Hamilton forcing the Mustangs out of system with well-placed serves just in front of the net.
“When we are out of system, it’s hard to get the ball her where we want to. We need to get her the ball more,” Coach Samson said. “There was a lot of inconsistencies in our play tonight. No one really had a good night for us tonight.”
Another reason for the Mustangs’ lack of production at the net was South Hamilton’s ability to block PCM hitters. They tripled blocked the middle and finished with 15 blocks on the night.
“We tried to split up that triple block by setting to the outsides more,” Coach Samson said. “They are a great blocking team though. They got a lot of touches on our hits.”
The Mustangs have a little more than a week to regroup. They play Greene County at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in Jefferson.