Ash Grove, Mo. (Ozarks Sports Zone) -- The difference between the first set and the second and third sets in Thursday’s nonconference match between Ash Grove and Lockwood may as well have been night and day.
The visiting Lady Tigers came into Ash Grove and were able to assert their will on the Lady Pirates in the first set, 25-21.
“I don’t think we played too bad, we just had an issue getting blocks set and balls weren’t really going our way,” said Ash Grove head coach Shelly Wilson. “When we got that taken care of I thought we were able to settle down and pick up our level of play.”
Behind the support of a raucous student section, the Lady Pirates did just that.
Ash Grove was able to make the necessary adjustments in the second and third sets, taking care of Lockwood 25-14 and 25-15 to claim a 2-1 victory.
“We were able to get our blocks set, and then set up our defense around that,” said Wilson. “We were getting those hustle balls, and even after a scramble we were still able to get a good hit in. I liked our aggression.”
That aggression was paced by senior libero Madi Johnson who made several diving plays, as well as classmate Abby Arico’s ability to attack and defend the net.
Thursday’s game marked the third without senior Jamie Mauss.
Mauss, an all-state selection in 2012, suffered torn ligaments in her foot in the second game of the season against College Heights.
“I feel like we are transitioning well,” said Wilson. “It was tough initially, but we’ve had some younger girls step up and our seniors have provided them with leadership. We’ve just got to keep improving.”
In her absence, seniors Erin Weinreis and Halee Cashio have provided leadership, as well as adjusted to carrying more of the load offensively.
Sophomores Morgan Allred and Tonnica Tummons have also been able to help fill the void left by Mauss.
While Mauss is out indefinitely, hopes around Ash Grove is that she should be back within a few weeks.
On Saturday the Lady Pirates (4-1) will be in action hosting their annual tournament, featuring state-ranked Pierce City, as well as Fair Grove and Billings.
“I’m really excited about our tournament,” said Wilson. We will get a lot of games in, and some of our younger girls will get more experience because of a few of our seniors having to take the ACT Saturday morning. I’m looking forward to seeing how they respond to the challenge.”
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