OTTAWA – The reason that all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again was because they were most likely missing some key pieces. However, the return of one of the important pieces of the Ottawa volleyball team on Thursday gave it a greater chance of having a great fall of its own.
Sophomore outside hitter Ryleigh Stevenson, who had missed several games due to injury over the last week, was just the piece that the Pirates needed to hold off a feisty Plano club for a 25-16, 29-27 Interstate Eight Conference victory in Kingman Gym in Ottawa on Thursday night.
Stevenson posted nine service points, four aces and hammered out five kills to help the OHS club snap out of its recent doldrums and get back in the win column at 8-11 overall, 2-2 in the league.
Grace Landers added eight points and 10 assists to the win, while Mel Pries chipped in six points, Olivia Evola five assists and Reese Burgwald nine digs for the winners, who grabbed control of the first set but had the second nearly slip away before staving off three straight set points.
Down 27-26, Ottawa used a Plano service error and consecutive points by Burgwald finished off the match.
“We’re coming off some tough losses right now,” said Pirates coach Jenn Crum, “so even though we were on the edge of our seats for that set, I knew the girls would be able to pull it off because they had to. They need to learn how to put teams away moving forward and they did that tonight … But I have to hand it to Plano. They really hustled their butts off on their side of the court and we almost got outhustled.
“We’ve had only six healthy players for around eight or nine days, so playing about that many games without a steady lineup, that’s hurt us. Now that we’re getting them back, they have to get back in the flow of things and we didn’t have a practice until (Wednesday), so that was our first chance to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. If we can stay healthy, we’ll be stronger from now on.”
It didn’t appear in the first set that Ottawa would be in for such a tussle, getting four straight aces from Stevenson and later three points in a row from Brea Konwinski to roll out to a 21-10 lead. But the Reapers started back with three points from Alex Bishop to get within 24-16 before Molly Buscher’s dig of her serve caught Plano by surprise by dropping in just over the net.
OHS got five points from Landers at the outset of Set 2 and later five points from Stevenson gave the hosts a 13-10 advantage before two Emily Santolin points for Plano set the game see-sawing. From a 17-17 tie, the Reapers held a single-point edge seven times, three times a point away from forcing a third set, but seven service errors from tie on helped Ottawa keep them from finishing.
Finally, the last of those miscues from the line tied it at 27 and Burgwald got the deciding markers on a Plano passing error and an ace.
“The big thing in the second game was missed serves,” said Plano coach Brittany Schutter, her club now 3-11 overall, 0-4 in the I-8. “I think we had five or six and that killed us. We have to get better at putting the ball away and taking games instead of letting the opposition back in.
“In the second set, we just had more energy. I believe both teams were low energy in the first game and Ottawa took it because we had more errors, unforced errors, than they did in that game, but in the second set, we brought our energy and got the momentum going our way. This is a very energy-based team. Once we get going, they keep going, they keep fighting. We just couldn’t find that spark in the first game.”