Fueled by aggressive jump serves and long rallies, the Bruins racked up a second win against the Osage Indians.
In a rematch of the Rock Bridge Tournament Championship, which the Bruins won last month, the Bruins (7-9) defeated the Indians 25-16, 25-27, 25-15 on Thursday night at Rock Bridge.
The first game featured runs from both teams. The Indians took command early with a 4-1 lead.
The Bruins came back and took the lead for the first time at 7-6, but faltered after Osage scored five straight points, extending the lead to 11-7.
But when Heather McDaniel served, the Bruins began moving ahead of the Indians.
McDaniel, who led the team with four aces, got the Bruins’ serve back with a kill, and served 10 straight points, putting the Bruins ahead 18-11.
Although McDaniel’s serving was an integral part of the win, she was worried about her serve heading into the match and credited her turnaround to keeping it simple.
“I noticed that I wasn’t serving as well as I have been before the game, so I just made sure I was getting it over the net,” McDaniel said. “Once I got aces and points it just built a lot of confidence.”
The Bruins’ serving remained solid through the rest of the first game, and junior Amanda Grayson recorded an ace when her serve trickled over the net for the game’s final point.
The Indians answered the Bruins’ rally in the second game, scoring 10 of 11 points, pulling away from a 5-5 tie leading 15-6.
The Indians continued to play well after their initial rally, and led with 21-13.
With McDaniel serving, eight straight points later, the Bruins tied it 21.
The Indians finally won after a Bruins’ defensive miscue allowed the final point to drop over the net.
“I don’t usually play in the front row, and I thought I was supposed to be somewhere I wasn’t supposed to be,” McDaniel said. “It was just a communication error and is something we can fix in the future.”
Despite the serving from McDaniel’s rally, coach Beth Newton said she thought her team’s serving was a key to their loss in the second game.
“We probably missed half of our serves the second game, and a lot of that is because I am asking the girls to jump serve and to be more aggressive,” Newton said.
Although the Bruins’ comeback and jump serving didn’t give them victory in the second game, it proved to be the impetus for a strong start and finish to the third game.
Behind the serving of sophomore Jade Hardaway, who had three aces, the Bruins were able to get off to a 5-0 lead, and led by as much as 10-1 before the Indians scored again.
Indians coach Lee Baker said he had hoped his team would show some momentum after rebounding from the Bruins’ surge in the second game.
“I was afraid of them losing all the points so quickly and letting Rock Bridge back into it, I was afraid of what that would do to them, but they didn’t give up and they stuck it out,” Baker said. “I was hoping that would mean more momentum for the third game.”
Newton was impressed with the way her players channeled their energy after their comeback fell short.
“They were really mad and they fed off it,” Newton said. “Sometimes when people get mad, it takes them out of games, but they turned it into something positive instead of negative.”