Adjectives like ugly and gruesome are usually reserved for the latest horror movie, but Rock Bridge volleyball players used them to describe the team’s match Thursday night against two-time defending 5A Kansas state champions Bishop Miege.
The 18-0 Stags defeated Rock Bridge 25-13, 25-5 and Hickman 25-17, 25-10 at Hickman in separate matches. With the losses, Rock Bridge falls to 4-7 and Hickman to 6-5.
“It was ugly,” said Rock Bridge senior Ashley Stanfill. “We got killed.”
From the moment the Stags stepped on the court, Rock Bridge knew it had a tough task ahead.
“After they hit the first few balls straight down and really hard, some of the girls were really intimidated,” said junior Amanda Hanson.
Junior Lauren Jacobs agreed.
“We really dug our own graves before the game started,” she said “We were playing scared the whole game.”
Coach Beth Newton said the experience of Bishop Miege was the biggest factor.
“We are playing lots of youth while they have seniors that have been playing since they were 12 or 13,” she said. “Their girls were outstanding and just a much better volleyball team than we are right now.”
Newton said it was the first time this season Rock Bridge had played a team with as much skill as Bishop Miege and she thinks her team was a little awestruck.
“Every time they (Bishop Miege) were hitting the ball over the net, it was an attack,” she said. “They hit it from the back row, the front row. We were a little outclassed tonight.”
Although Hickman had seen Bishop Miege handily defeat Rock Bridge, Hickman junior MegAnn Schlader said the team was not scared to play the Stags.
“It pumped us up more than anything,” she said. “We felt like it was a great challenge for us.”
Hickman, though, fell short of the challenge.
“We didn’t quite get the passes we wanted so we had to resort to the left-outside hitter a lot,” junior Jenny Keener said. “That hurt us in the long run because they knew where the ball was going to be coming from and blocked pretty easily.”
Hickman coach Greg Gunn said he was not disappointed in his team’s effort.
“They played their hardest,” he said. “Some of the balls we were able to dig up and block, but just couldn’t do it consistently. We are not capable of staying with an attack that quick.”
Hickman and Rock Bridge said the loss will benefit them.
“If we play easy teams all the time then we’re not learning anything or getting better as a team,” Schlader said. “But if we play harder teams that show us more of the quick runs and sets, it will allow us to get farther in districts.”
Rock Bridge sophomore Lindsey McDaniel said the game taught her team to not give up in the shadow of intimidation.
Although this is a valuable lesson, McDaniel said the most important thing to do after a big loss is to not let it affect the team in the future.
“It’s over, so we just have to let it go.”