After an 11-25 first set loss to O’Hara, Smith-Cotton head coach Chad Harter pointed the Lady Tigers volleyball team to the locker room with a stern “Go!”
There, Harter delivered a pep talk with themes that applied beyond the next set of an 11-25, 25-14, 20-23 loss to the Celtics on Tuesday at Smith-Cotton High School in Sedalia.
“We talked about what it means to grow as a team, we talked about what it means to come back with adversity,” Harter said. “We had some errors, and we let that affect us at a mental level. When you let that happen in a rally game, it goes pretty quick … We’re a growing team, and because of that, it looked like we were a little bit lost.”
Smith-Cotton began set two on a 6-1 run and led by eight points mid-set. Tori Jacobi led Smith-Cotton with seven kills and nine assists, Anna Belle Lorenz added 10 assists, while Elix Simon and Jorey Luebbert had six kills apiece.
Harter said seniors Jacobi and Simon had just as much to do with the second-set turnaround as his between-sets speech.
“The key to where we finished as opposed to where we started is senior leadership, as far as taking over on the court and leading our team,” Harter said. “I think their leadership really showed out on the court.”
After losing an early 3-2 lead, Smith-Cotton nearly closed a 3-point gap on O’Hara in set three. O’Hara led 20-19 in set three before clinching the match on a 5-1 run.
Despite the loss, Harter said the Lady Tigers (5-8) have grown more aggressive.
“Our back row right now is a little bit more seasoned than the front row,” Harter said. “We’re still growing all around, but we probably had more touches from our back row, and our front row is learning how to be aggressive … I thought we were good at attacking the ball tonight.”
Smith-Cotton faces Nevada on the road at 5 p.m. Thursday.
Alex Agueros can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @abagueros2