COLUMBIA — The Hickman girls volleyball team faced several challenges in its match against Hannibal on Tuesday night at Hickman High School. With juniors Hannah Corbin and Grace Fleming battling injuries, Hickman coach Greg Gunn was forced to move up sophomore Lindsey Head and freshman Deidre Mattson from the junior varsity team.
As it has in recent years, the match fell in favor of the Pirates 25-14, 25-19, but Gunn was impressed with the performance of his young additions, particularly Mattson, who played the entire match at right side.
“She was very solid all the way around, dug lots of balls, and served really well,” Gunn said of Mattson. “I thought she played as good as anybody out there tonight.”
Mattson was calm and focused from the time she stepped onto the court. She neither smiled nor frowned and kept an even temper throughout the match. Her composure might be expected from an experienced senior rather than a young freshman. It was something that might have come as a surprise to most people in the crowd, but not as much to Gunn.
“Every time I watch Deidre play, I’m more impressed with her court sense and athleticism,” Gunn said. “She’s really solid.”
Accepting the request to fill in on the varsity team without hesitation is yet another thing Gunn said he admires about Mattson.
“I felt honored,” Mattson said of being asked to play.
A freshman at West Junior High, Mattson doesn’t even attend Hickman. She has to ride the bus to practice. She isn’t familiar with the junior varsity players, not to mention the varsity players.
“It was hard getting used to everybody,” Mattson said. “I started out nervous, but then I just kind of got used to it. I had fun.”
After her performance Tuesday night, Mattson said she was proud of herself and eager to continue playing with the varsity team.
Even with the return of Corbin and possibly Flemming, who played for the junior varsity team Tuesday, Gunn said he plans to keep Mattson and Head on the varsity squad at least for Thursday's game against visiting Rolla, and potentially even longer.