Columbia College volleyball entered Monday’s match with Harris-Stowe State not having played a game in almost a month because of a coronavirus-related layoff. The Cougars only even resumed practice last week.
That didn’t matter to coach Allison Jones-Olson.
“We thought we should take it,” she said.
Take it is exactly what the Cougars (6-1, 2-0 American Midwest Conference) did, barely breaking a sweat against the hapless Hornets (1-4, 0-3) in a straight-set victory.
“We did a nice job of talking and moving and coming together and knowing what to do with the ball after being out for so long,” Jones-Olson said about her team in the 25-9, 25-9, 25-11 win.
Even in the fleeting moments when Harris-Stowe was competitive, like when it won two of the first four points of the second set, the Hornets inevitably regressed to resemble their winless conference record. The Hornets committed 19 errors, had a -.100 hitting percentage and were never in sync offensively.
Against a team like Harris-Stowe, the mentality became less about winning the match and more about what the Cougars could do relative to their own expectations.
“We had a goal of keeping them under 10,” Jones-Olson said. “We really wanted to work on our serving. I know we had 15 aces, but we also had 10 errors, so we’d like to see our errors go down.”
Columbia came out hot in the first set, when Luisa Ferreira opened the game with an ace and the Cougars jumped out to a 12-4 lead. There was a sharp contrast in the energy coming from the Columbia bench and the tepid play on the Harris-Stowe side. The Hornets saw several balls drop between multiple players and were never competitive in dropping the set.
“That was nice (to come out strong),” Jones-Olson said. “I think it gave us some confidence, and we felt like we could actually play the game. It’s different than playing against each other. We were excited to be back on the floor.”
The third set opened with Harris-Stowe’s Kyanae Toombs deflecting Ferreira’s serve over the folded-up bleachers behind her and onto another court.
It was a precursor of the final set for the Hornets, who managed to stick around briefly on a few Columbia errors before the Cougars pulled away.
“We had a few extra people in that were playing some different positions,” Jones-Olson said. “So it’s kind of a communication thing, and we just haven’t had a lot of games to play different spots.”
Columbia will be back in action at 7 p.m. Thursday at home against Missouri Baptist. The Spartans enter the matchup with a record of 5-1.