By Neil H. Devlin, Mullen Sports Information Director
Mullen gets swept by Eaglecrest, but the games were close and its growth is becoming obvious.
CENTENNIAL – The growing pains are still happening, but they appear to be occurring not as frequently and some are diminishing.
And it’s exactly what Mullen head coach Jeff Oliver knew – and hoped -- would happen
Yes, Mustangs got swept 3-0 by Eaglecrest in a Centennial League roadie at The Nest, but the matches were close – the Raptors (3-2) won by scores of 25-21, 25-22, 25-18. And even though the Mustangs, who dropped their third consecutive match to level their record at 3-3, came up short, additional progress was recognized by Oliver.
“We were up in at least the first two games,” the coach said, “and not so much in the third. We just need to learn how to win a bit more. (But) they’re getting there. And they did it against Eaglecrest, which has some really good players.”
Mullen, which was trying to halt a skid against the always good Raptors – it has dropped 14 of its past 17 matches against Eaglecrest -- was headed by the all-around play of Maddy Karr, Devon Moore, Caroline Hanna Oancia and Lia Dino. The Mustangs led late in the first two games and had opportunities to win both before Eaglecrest made the plays to finish, including finding holes in the middle of the Mullen defense for dinks and having the Mustangs experience a few hitting errors.
Dino said she and her teammates noticed and are eager to get to another level.
“I totally think we’re growing,” she said. Competing on a young team during the time of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, she said, is challenging as players are being pulled in different directions just to be able to compete and there’s always the treat of quarantine, “but we’re definitely gaining energy. It’s a lot of different people trying to make a team and I definitely see a lot of growth. We started off as a lot of individuals, but we’re growing as a team.”
Said Oliver: “Our setters are getting better at running the offense and it’s going to take some time … (the Mustangs’ effort) is a sign of growth in a short season, but we have to find a way to finish these games.”
Mullen will be in the middle match on Tuesday of three in a row this week – it will host Grandview at Hutchison Fieldhouse at 6:30 p.m.