BOURBON — There was a moment during Triton’s volleyball match with Oregon-Davis Thursday night where things could’ve gone south for the hosts.
After dropping the third game and falling behind early in the fourth, an illegal substitution call undid what would’ve been the go-ahead point for the Blue Slam. It was a moment that might’ve allowed the visiting Cats to steal the momentum and possibly another game, sending the showdown between Sectional 51 rivals into a decisive fifth set.
But instead of letting the substitution flap deflate them, Triton’s players rallied around their coach, going on a 15-2 tear en route to a comfortable 21-8 cushion, then sealing their first win of the season in four games, 25-19, 25-10, 21-25, 25-10.
“I made a mistake, and they had my back. That’s what that was about,” explained Triton coach Gayle Perry of her team’s big fourth-game run. “They know the stuff I do. I’ll take this net down tonight. I made sure it was up. I do the laundry. I do everything, but when they come to play I want them to give me everything they’ve got. I said to them ‘It’s my mistake. Get my back.’ And that’s what that was about. That’s their way of saying ‘We’ve got you, Coach.’”
After opening the season with a pair of losses to John Glenn and Mishawaka earlier in the week, Thursday’s win was just what the doctor ordered for the Blue Slam. They jumped ahead two games at Glenn on Monday, then lost three in a row to suffer a season-opening heartbreaker. On Wednesday, they played point for point in their first game with the Cavemen, but when Mishawaka took the lead and the first set, the Slam fell apart, collecting just 10 points over the remaining two games.
Thursday’s win should be a confidence-builder for a team in need of some, says Perry.
“We needed that win,” she said. “It’ll give us some confidence. My team, they look a little bi-polar. We played at Glenn, two, probably two and a half really good games, and then, just as good as we looked, looked that bad the rest of the way. Kind of ran out of gas; kind of got tired. We start school Aug. 4. The IHSAA says we can’t start volleyball until July 31, so I only had three days where we could practice twice a day.”
Triton’s core of seniors led the way Thursday with some help from the team’s lone junior.
Outside hitter Nicole Sechrist paced her team in four statistical categories with a whopping 21 kills, 11 digs, four aces and two blocks. But fellow senior hitter Charlotte Morris also had a breakout match on the opposite side of the net, tallying 11 kills while also registering six digs and three aces.
“Finally. Huge that Charlotte Morris came through. Eleven kills tonight,” said Perry.
“And just did a really good job, I think, of keeping the ball in front of her and getting that quick approach. She’s lifted weights hard. Since last November we’ve been lifting, and I just think she can even hit harder. With a little more confidence, I think we’ll see more of that.”
Setter Hannah Wanemacher passed out 30 assists, while fellow senior Emma Ross recorded six digs. Junior libero Sydney Musilli served up a team co-leading four aces alongside Sechrist, and she finished with six digs on defense for Triton, which moved to 1-2.
The team could well see OD again come tournament time in October. If that happens, Perry expects to see an improved Lady Cats squad, which showed grit despite being undersized at the Trojan Trench.
“I thought OD was really scrappy. They played a lot of rallies, and that’s how they played last year,” Perry said. “They dug a lot of balls, and sometimes they’d just send them back without an attack but they got them up. They really made us continue to play until the ball hit the floor, and we had to kill it. We had to get it to the floor, not just get it over to a spot. They’ll get better. By sectional, they’ll be ready to give us a challenge, but we’ll be better too.”
Triton’s junior varsity also earned a win Thursday with a 25-17, 25-18 victory over their Oregon-Davis counterparts.
The Blue Slam will be back in action at Rochester next Monday.