“We really wanted to focus on getting out of the gate,” said Ozark coach Becky Justis. “You don’t want them to get any flow because they have some great players. We did a tremendous job of getting out of the gate tonight.”
Ozark won the first set 25-9 before finishing off Nixa 25-14 in the second. It was the first 15 points of the match that told the story for both teams.
“We went out there with the mindset that we really wanted to make a statement,” said Ozark senior middle-hitter Ivy Reynolds. “This is our house, and we don’t want to let anybody come in and even try to play with us. We wanted to come out here and play our game.”
The 13-2 initial surge by Ozark included a stretch of nine consecutive points won by the Lady Tigers. Nixa, meanwhile, struggled to keep pace. The Lady Eagles took two timeouts in the first set before they scored their third point.
“I hate coming to this place,” said Nixa coach Greg Walker. “They’re a well-disciplined team, and we didn’t stick to our game plan. Credit to them for getting us off-balanced.”
Walker noted that the rivalry might have played a part in the way his team played.
“We missed serves we don’t normally miss. We made bad passes that we don’t normally make,” he said. “Credit that to the rivalry. It got into our heads, and we couldn’t get it out.”
On the other side, Becky Justis was very pleased with the way her girls handled the pressure of the rivalry match.
“The girls came out really pumped up, but they were also very focused,” she said. “You have to do everything it takes to protect your house, and they did a great job of that tonight.”
Senior Ivy Reynolds, sophomore Kendra Sater, and junior Caroline Clifford led a balanced Ozark attack with four kills apiece. Stater had 11 assists, while Reynolds posted 10 digs and three blocks to pace the Lady Tigers.
Three sophomores led the Nixa Lady Eagles, with Reilly Dobbs dishing 13 assists, Aubrey Cheffey adding seven kills, and Audrey Engelman with seven digs.
Both teams can’t afford to dwell on Tuesday’s result too much due to stiff challenges coming in the next week. Ozark will face Neosho on Thursday while Nixa returns home for a match against Republic.
“It’s another tough match,” said Walker of Thursday’s date with Republic. “We’ve got one day to regroup and then come out fighting.”
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