AURORA – It was more of the same old, same old for Mullen on Wednesday night.
The Mustangs ended their regular season in the new Season C with a sweep at the hands of a very tall Grandview, which won easily 25-9, 25-18, 25-16 to cap the Centennial League. They were a younger group with only one returning player with significant varsity time and coach Jeff Oliver was prepared for how the quasi-season in 2021 transpired.
“It’s just frustrating,” he said of the delayed start, only being allowed to play league games and being a Class 4A team outmanned by the high end of the 5A league. But the experience, he added, “was great and will help us roll into the fall. That’s the good part … and playing a little bit more of a diverse schedule (next season) that should help us.”
In finishing 6-8, Mullen probably won’t qualify for the first round of the playoffs. The new Season C also went head-to-head with club play and the Mustangs scrambled for practice time.
“There was a lot going on and it was challenging,” Oliver said.
In the match, the Wolves (10-4) rolled early, dealt with Mullen’s best move in drawing even through Game 2 and pulled away gradually for a sweep that was a common theme – 11 of the team’s 14 matches involved 3-0 scores.
In bidding thanks and farewell to four seniors, including Kiley Lawrence, the Mustangs will jump into another season the fastest since the sport was sanctioned in the 1970s, but it didn’t help with the ending.
“Yeah, it hurts,” Lawrence, a middle hitter, said, “It’s sad, for sure … you know, four years playing volleyball, it was a lot of fun. It’s the end of an era. You don’t expect it to come so fast. You always think you have time.”
And everything she went through to play, Lawrence said, was worth it.
“Oh, yeah, it was a great season, a great four years, and I wouldn’t trade it,” she said.
At the other end, Madeline Karr said the 2021 season was trying, but will help the program in the future. And she will be a part of it.
“I’m excited about having a really young team,” the sophomore libero said. “I think we will come back a lot better. I want to encourage more hard work and focus in practice, so we can dial it in. I had a great time. It was just really fun for me. Of course, I wished we won more, but it was fun.”
There will be a quick turn-around for the team, including summer workouts if everything continues to work toward normalcy, and she’ll be ready … and more than ready to perhaps lose one of the most-identifiable traits of life during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“We’ll play in, like, three-to-four months,” Karr said. “I’m hoping we don’t have to use masks. Honestly, it’s a pain in the butt.”