COLUMBIA — Emotion played as big a role in a Hickman Kewpies volleyball's loss to Jefferson City as offense, defense, players, coaches, the net and the ball.
During warm-ups the Kewpies were spiking and setting balls with intensity as they listened to music blaring from the speakers above. Many of the players were smiling and singing along as they anticipated the match ahead.
But by the end of the final set, the Kewpies' emotions changed entirely. After losing 25-18, 25-14 to visiting Jefferson City High School, the players walked off the court with their heads down and looks of disappointment on their faces.
“The first game we came out like a team that could play with them, and the second game we looked like a team that had never touched a ball before,” senior Kimberly Lake said with tears in her eyes after the game.
The Kewpies emotion was unchanged throughout the first set, as loud chanting from the team followed each Hickman point. The team's communication on the court was loud enough for fans to hear.
After mistakes such as a serve into the net, the Kewpies would go quiet. That's when momentum turned.
Toward the end of the second set, the players were almost silent as the Jays scored several consecutive points to win the game.
“There were errors at critical times that shifted momentum,” Hickman coach Greg Gunn said. “Momentum is such a big deal.”
After consecutive losses, Gunn said he hopes to use the next couple of days to motivate his players and prepare them for the annual "pink out" game against rival Rock Bridge High School on Monday.
“Some of them rebound fairly quickly; some of them take a while,” Gunn said of the players’ reaction to tough losses.
The Rock Bridge game is a motivator in and of itself, however.
“They have no trouble gettin’ up for Rock Bridge," Gunn said. "You almost have to settle them down for it.”
The mention of the Rock Bridge game to saddened junior libero Ali Baxter changed her post-game expression.
She lifted her head and her face lit up with a smile as she said, “Rock Bridge is gonna go down.”