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'Stangs tough, but fall 3-1 to Raptors

By Neil H. Devlin, Mullen Sports Information Director
In dipping to 6-6, Mullen can't fight through Eaglecrest, which takes a 22-25, 25-22, 25-11, 32-30 match in league.
It was another microcosm of sorts for Mullen volleyball.

While still gaining experience on the fly, the Mustangs made some significant progress, but it wasn’t quite enough ... and it’s a bit frustrating.

On Wednesday night at Hutchison Fieldhouse, the scores were indicative – they beat Eaglecrest in the opener 25-22, then dropped three in a row by 25-22, 25-11, 32-30 in the Centennial League to fall back to .500 at 6-6 in league and overall.

The Mustangs also are in the dark for the Class 4A playoffs because playing in a 5A-based league, one as top-heavy as the Centennial, isn’t helping in this new Season C during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Head coach Jeff Oliver agreed that it didn’t seem like a run-of-the-mill 3-1 loss.

“It doesn’t,” he said. “I was really proud of how they fought that last set. We haven’t had these types of games and it was awesome.”

Another rollercoaster of a match came with the ubiquitous ups and downs.

“It was great that we competed and worked hard,” Oliver said.

However, some unforced errors hurt the Mustangs, including on serves, and a few balls landed in between players. Oliver agreed that “it’s hard to give away points.”

After Jessica Oates-Stamm capped the first set for Mullen, Eaglecrest, which has now downed the Mustangs in 16 of their past 19 meetings, returned the favor. Just as in the first set, Mullen had chances in the second.

The Mustangs’ wheels came off in the third, when they trailed by 11-0 and 19-2 before trading punches with the Raptors as their effort in the fourth helped ease some of the sting … at least, some of it.

“Yeah, a little bit,” Mustangs freshman Devon Moore responded if this one hurt. “I think at the end we fought really hard and got back in the game.”

She added that sophomore Lia Dino was the team’s only available setter and “she really stepped up.”

The Mustangs won their first game against the Raptors in two seasons and just their seventh since 2015.

Mullen has two more matches in this shortened season, Tuesday, April 20, at home vs. Cherokee Trail, and Wednesday, April 21, at Grandview. Both are league and 5A heavyweights.

“We really kind of needed this one,” Oliver said. “We would have been no worse than .500 (in the league) … it was great to actually play and compete, but I’m not happy with the third set. We need to keep working.”