ANGOLA – Concordia won the first two sets at Angola on Wednesday night, but Cadets coach Tricia Miller knew not to take the third set for granted.
When the teams last met in 2019, the Cadets won the first two sets before giving up the next two and finally prevailing in the fifth.
This time around, Concordia trailed for much of the third set and finally pulled ahead at 22-21. With libero LonDynn Betts serving, the Hornets' attempt to return fell short of the net, giving the Cadets a 25-23, 25-19, 25-22 victory.
“When you go into their house, you want to finish it and not give them a window,” Miller said.
Concordia is now 4-2 and handed the Class 3A No. 4 Hornets (7-1) their first loss of the season.
The Cadets fell behind 6-0 right out of the gate in the first set. Morgan Gaerte, a towering Angola freshman, opened the match with a kill, and sophomore outside hitter Brea Harris was dominant serving during that stretch, with three aces.
Miller called a timeout, and though the Cadets won the next point Gaerte responded with another kill, and soon the Hornets were up 8-1.
“We were trying to keep the ball away from their big gun in No. 13 (Gaerte), she's just a freshman, so she's going to be someone we have to figure out how to beat for four years,” Miller said. “(Harris), she just is solid. She's good outside, you try to keep her from passing the ball. Those two really carry that team and everyone else does their job.”
But the Cadets chipped and chipped away. The Concordia rally started with a service error by Kady Conrad, and soon it was tied at 8. The set would remain hotly contested until Concordia went up 21-19 on a block. The Cadets won the first set as an Angola return sailed beyond the baseline.
The Hornets took a 2-0 lead in the second on kills by Harris and Gaerte, but the Cadets tied the game at 4 and steadily pulled away from there, at one point leading 23-15. Angola put together a small rally, pulling back within 23-19, but the Cadets won the last two points to close out the set.
“What I really liked is that our kids didn't hang their heads and just kept plugging away, which is something we've been working on, because it's a game of runs,” Miller said, describing her teams “baby steps” towards mental toughness. “It's a crazy game, it's a game of runs. They have to be mentally tough and trust each other, that we can chip away at this.”