Volleyball: Friendswood holds off Clear Lake in four sets
As quick as the first set evaporated in Friendswood’s favor Tuesday night, it appeared a short night’s work might be in order for the Lady Mustang volleyball team in a season-opening match against Clear Lake.
However, with plenty of youth and inexperience on both sides of the net, there seemed to be little that was predictable at the Friendswood gym.
Clear Lake immediately battled back after the early setback, but it was Friendswood which eventually prevailed, 25-10, 19-25, 25-22, 25-23 in a battle of former District 24-6A foes.
“The first set we were going really hard every single ball, and we were on,” Lady Mustang head coach Sarah Paulk said. “Then we kind of relaxed a little bit and never got back in the groove.
“Clear Lake made some adjustments, also. I told the girls in the locker room that I’ve never been one to make excuses. Yes, we’re very, very young with a bunch of new kids, but I have very high expectations for them.”
Friendswood stormed to an 11-1 lead in the first game with Ashlyn Svoboda collecting two kills while while Nicole Scott and Lauren Hubbard had one each. Elle McGown also produced a service winner.
A seemingly nervous Clear Lake squad made 10 errors in the first game alone, allowing Friendswood to easily pull away. Hubbard put away consecutive kills to finalize the first set.
As quickly as Friendswood established momentum, it disappeared equally fast. Behind strong play from seniors Margaret Horner and Clare Mills, the Lady Falcons were able to build some confidence, even after falling behind 4-0 to start the second set.
Clear Lake took its first lead at 10-9 on consecutive errors from the Lady Mustangs, and Mills put away a winner for an 11-9 cushion.
Mills, who had nine kills in the second set, collected three in a row to stake Lake to a 16-12 cushion. From there, the Lady Falcons would comfortably retain the lead until the finish of the set.
Mills, Milan Armao and Horner each delivered non-returnable serves while Brooke Braham and Taylor Bess added kills.
Lake built as much as a 24-17 lead in levelling the match.
The third and fourth sets were hotly contested and could have easily gone Lake’s way, but Friendswood produced the crucial points at the end of the sets.
A kill by Makensy Manbeck opened a 14-10 advantage for Friendswood, which eventually saw its advantage reach 20-13.
However, the Lady Falcons battled back to trim the margin to 23-21. Lady Falcon junior middle blocker Libby Saunders was instrumental in that rally, recording two kills, a block winner and serve winner.
Friendswood reached set point at 24-21 on a kill by Hubbard, but Mills responded with a kill to make it 24-22.
A Lake serving error resulted in Friendswood taking a 2-1 sets lead.
Game four was close all the way with Lake taking a 17-15 edge on consecutive kills from Mills. At 19-all, Mills served an ace for a 20-19 lead, and the Lady Falcons would lead for the last time at 21-20.
At 23-all, Friendswood won the final two points with McGown delivering a kill to finalize matters.
“After the first set, we started playing better,” said Lake’s Mills, who had a match-high 22 kills. “Our serve-receive got a lot better, and we picked up our energy against a tough team.
“We fought really hard, and it was neck-and-neck the rest of the way, it just didn’t happen for us. We’re a really young team, and I think we’ll just continue to grow and get better.”
Clear Lake head coach Chanda Eager indicated her team was a little tense at the start.
“I think we played really well once we settled in,” the Lady Falcon boss said. “The girls gave a great effort.
“We’re going to be tough, defensively. If we’re known for anything, that’s what we’re known for. The girls realize they had opportunities down the stretch. This is one match, and we’re excited about getting out and playing again.”
Clear Lake and Friendswood will each compete in the 76-team John Turner Classic which begins Thursday with most matches being played in Pearland.