Willard, Mo. (For OzarksSportsZone.com) -- Jamalee Hancock, Willard volleyball head coach, knew Friday night was important. Her team met its new district opponent, Lebanon, in a season opener that will surely fuel the Lady Tigers’ enthusiasm after the 2-0 win.
“This was a huge win, because Lebanon is now a district opponent for us. There was a lot of meaning behind this game,” said Hancock. “We didn’t want to overemphasize it, but we knew we had a task at hand.”
Willard started slow, as Lebanon grabbed an early lead.
“We let a couple balls sit in the middle, so we still need to work out some communication errors,” said Hancock. “Lebanon hurt us in that left back corner a couple times. But our team adjusted well."
A long volley and solid defense by the Tigers allowed them to pull ahead 5-4, and they never let go. The first game ended with a Willard victory of 25-18.
Willard’s momentum continued into the second game, where they did not allow Lebanon to pull ahead once. With a final score of 25-14, Willard nailed its season opener in two sets.
“I think we came together as a team,” said Willard middle hitter Tessa Thornton, a senior and 2011 second team all-conference honoree. “We were loud, and we didn’t let each other down. We came together with all this energy and enthusiasm. It made the game more exciting.”
Jenna Robinson, outside hitter, said: “At first, I think everyone was really nervous. We started off with a few errors, then somebody got a big kill. After that, I didn’t doubt we were going to win at all.”
Hancock was encouraged with her team’s defense.
“To come out with your season opener, to play as well as we did, I’m very excited. Defensively, this was one of the best efforts I’ve seen out of this team.” said Hancock.
Lebanon coach Brittni Jessen was not disheartened by the loss.
“I’m not worried in the least bit,” said Jessen, “If we were playing our best right now, there would be a problem. We definitely want to speed up our offense a lot in practice. We’re not going to let our girls get down on themselves at all.”
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