COLUMBIA — The Hickman volleyball team rushed onto the court after its junior varsity team defeated Rock Bridge 2-1 on Thursday at Columbia College. The group of players huddled together screaming and hugging to celebrate the victory. The junior varsity players were so caught up in the moment they almost forgot to shake hands with the Bruins.
The three-game victory set the stage for the senior night varsity match.
Taking the Bruins off their home court where they have had a perfect record this season and moving them onto a neutral court, the Kewpies hoped for a better outcome than when the rival teams faced each other earlier this season.
For a few minutes in the first game, it seemed there was hope for that outcome. In the end, the same familiar pattern emerged.
Rock Bridge wins. Hickman loses.
“I kind of got scared, timid during the first one when they were holding up with us,” Rock Bridge senior Kayla Howard said. “But then we got our energy.”
The Kewpies came out with momentum. They scored the first point of the game and the score remained close throughout, even though the Bruins pulled out the 25-18 win.
The second match was a different story — a story that both teams have become used to this season.
The excitement from the junior varsity win had worn off after losing the first game, and when the Kewpies stepped onto the court for the second game, their heads were down and the smiles were gone. The familiar sadness that has accompanied the team throughout the season was back.
After the slow start, the Bruins were back to their old selves. As they stood on the court awaiting the start of the second game, smiles and laughter filled their side of the court. The players danced, shook hands and high-fived each other.
With the change of emotion, came an easy victory for the Bruins. They came out with a 5-0 lead that led to a 25-10 victory.
Rock Bridge coach Tatum Anderson said her team started out slow, but she blamed the close start of the game on her team.
“We handed them a lot of points with our errors,” Anderson said. She added that it always takes her team a little while to get warmed up but that they do a good job of keeping it close at the beginning.
Hickman coach Greg Gunn also attributed the change of momentum to the closeness of the junior varsity game but in a much different way. The fact that the junior varsity match was three games long actually had a negative affect on his team.
The Kewpies have recently moved up two players from the junior varsity team onto the varsity team, Kendahl Adams and Trenay Anderson.
“That helps us because we’re short in some areas,” Gunn said. “They’ve stepped up and filled some roles.”
But after playing three junior varsity games, the two weren’t allowed to play in the second game of the varsity match because players are only allowed to play in four games.
“We missed them in the second game,” Gunn said. He is hoping to give them some more experience with the varsity girls this weekend when the Kewpies travel to Quincy Notre Dame for a tournament.
Both Hickman and Rock Bridge will then begin preparing for the district tournament competition, which will be held next week at Troy Buchanan High School.
Anderson said Rock Bridge (25-6) hopes to maintain their winning streak, and Hickman (2-21-1) is still hoping for a turn-around.
“It’s not over til it’s over,” Gunn said.