COLUMBIA — Moments before the Hickman varsity volleyball game began, Kendahl Adams, a member of the Hickman junior varsity volleyball team, ran off the court where she and the other JV players were cheering for the varsity team.
"Coach I found a penny, and it was heads up," Adams said as she handed the penny to Kewpies coach Greg Gunn.
After going 0-4 last weekend at the Lee's Summit North Tournament, the Kewpies faced the defending Class 2 state champion Hermann on Monday, and a bit of luck couldn't have hurt. But the coin was not enough to help the Kewpies from losing 25-22, 25-22.
After winning only once this season, Hickman senior captain Sarah Miller said it's hard to keep her team motivated, but she is willing to do what it takes. Throughout the game, after good and bad plays, her voice was heard, and her hands were clapping.
"I've been raised to always be positive and never drag my team down," Miller said. "My goal for each game is to lose my voice."
She encourages her teammates to keep their heads in the right place when on the court, and she said she tries her best to motivate them before the games.
"When we're at volleyball, we want to focus on volleyball," Miller said. "We don't want to worry about boyfriends. We don't want to worry about work. We're here to focus."
Gunn switched formations at the request of the players Monday, giving them a bit more control. He said he hoped giving the players some ownership would have positive effects.
"It's definitely a confidence issue," Gunn said. "There's self-confidence and there's confidence in each other that's lacking. When they struggle, they get into a tail spin. It's a self-defeating cycle. They get down because they're making mistakes. They're not prepared. They make more mistakes, which makes them further down. It's just a tail spin."
Gunn said he did see improvement from this weekend.
"They held together much better and fought there toward the end," Gunn said. "I think they had some confidence that they could come back and win."
Gunn emphasized the need to focus on the cause of lost points rather than the outcomes of the games. He said that "taking care of the things that cause those losses instead of focusing on scoreboards and win/loss records" could be the answer for his team.
Miller said she was upset with the effort her teammates are giving. She mentioned an agreement the players had made at tryouts to give 110 percent all the time.
"That's our goal, but half our team doesn't want to do that," Miller said with a tone of frustration in her hoarse voice. "Kim (Lake) and I want to have a pleasant senior season, and we're not getting that."
The Kewpies don't have much time to find answers. They are set to play Tuesday against St. Paul Lutheran in Concordia.
"I don't know what we'll do tomorrow," Gunn said. "Shuffle the deck and try something else."