HANFORD — After winning the first set of Thursday’s match, Hanford West slowly faltered in the next three sets culminating in a 3-1 home loss to Reedley.
Trailing 2-1, and 19-16 in the fourth set, the Huskies (1-1) needed to win to force a decisive fifth set. They rallied with four consecutive points to take a one-point lead, but after a hitting miscue, the Pirates (1-0) seized momentum and closed the set — and non-league match (25-17, 16-25, 22-25, 20-25) — on a 6-0 run.
“People just started getting angry at each other,” Hanford West libero Laura Denham said. “I think we have the skill and the talent there, but I just don’t think right now we’re bonded as a team. I just know that we’re going to overcome that.”
Hanford West coach Maria Stevens, who was filling in for usual varsity coach Aimee Ladd, said the team gets frustrated with themselves and needs to work on their defense. Ladd missed the game due to illness.
“I believe that these girls have the energy, the strive and the momentum to play an amazing season,” Stevens said. “Sometimes they just get frustrated and it shows on the court, so that’s something they need to personally figure it out.”
For some mistakes on the court, especially late in the match, the criticism was apparent. It seemed to lead to more mistakes and didn’t help the team morale. Stevens said the end of the match was just “simple little mistakes.”
“They need to trust each other, they need to trust their game, they need to trust the girls,” Stevens said. “Other than that I think they did really well. They played an amazing game tonight.”
The Huskies and Pirates were engaged in a back-and-forth affair during the first set where neither team led by more than three points until Hanford West went on a 6-0 run. Instead of trailing by a point, the Huskies now led 19-14 and eventually won the set.
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“We had a little bit more communication than we had in the other sets,” Denham said about the team’s success in the first set.
Hanford West struggled in the second set and got off to a slow start. They trailed 4-0, 8-3 and eventually 15-5 after Reedley went on a 6-0 run. They cut the lead to three, but the Pirates quickly made it nine again before winning by the same margin.
The third set was a lot like the fourth. The Huskies kept it close, but couldn’t get over the hump to come away with a win. They briefly led early in the set, but a 5-0 run gave Reedley a 7-4 lead. They led the rest of the set.
Hanford West came close to make it 22-20, but miscues put them behind again before a ball into the net ended the set.
The Huskies suffered their first loss of the season and are hoping for a rebound year after going 11-20 last year, including 3-9 in the Central Sequoia League, which had them miss the playoffs for the first time in three seasons.
“Of course, we’d love to go to playoffs,” Denham, a senior, said. “But if that’s not an option, I just want to make it a great last season.”
Hanford West will face rival Hanford (0-1) next Tuesday at home at 6:30 p.m. Last season the Bullpups got the better of the Huskies winning 3-2.