Nebraska City’s volleyball team won’t be defined by Thursday night’s loss to Gretna, but it might end up being driven by that match.
The Pioneer team, which was coming off a great offseason and summer experience, entered Thursday amped and confident against always tough Gretna.
Maybe Nebraska City was a bit too confident for their own good.
“I think we might have been a little bit over confident,” said Coach Mark Kirlin. “This wasn’t the greatest week of practice that I have seen them have.”
Despite the nerves ever-present in an opening match and the difficulties that the rated Dragon team presented, Nebraska City still showed in the first set that they could hang with quality foes.
The first set was tied at 20-20 with the Pioneers having a definite shot to win.
“We did some good things when we controlled the ball,” said Kirlin. “We had some hitters that did some good things.”
Gretna closed out the set 25-21. And the Dragons won the second and third sets as well, 25-18 and 25-16.
As the sets wore on, Coach Kirlin said the Dragons controlled the ball and got points. Nebraska City fought back and that was admirable. Coach Kirlin said the team played better than he has seen them play against a quality foe like Gretna.
But the deficits were simply too much to overcome on Thursday.
“You can’t dig an eight-point hole and then try to come back against a good team like that,” he said.
After the match, Coach Kirlin said he spoke with the Pioneers about what lessons they could learn from Thursday. Chief among those lessons was the fact that this season won’t be an easy ride. The Pioneers worked hard in the offseason and that work will have to continue if the team is to reach the goals they set.
Coach Kirlin said he has every confidence that the team has a better understanding and are ready to attack, beginning with Saturday’s matches at the Plattsmouth Invite.
“I think getting over the mental hurdles is going to be a work in progress,” Kirlin said. “They are going to have a good year. This isn’t going to define our season. We are going to be pretty good.”
Action at the Plattsmouth tourney begins early Saturday morning with the first matches at 8 a.m.
Coach Kirlin said the Pioneers’ preparation has to begin before that time.
“We talked about this. And you owe it to your team not to be out late,” Kirlin said. “I know we have a football game and I am going to be at that too, but get some sleep. Don’t stay up until 2 a.m.”
Nebraska City plans to arrive comfortably before the first match. They’ll get warmed up. They’ll get fired up. And the Pioneers will be ready.
“We played really well in that last year and I think we have a better team than we were last year,” said Kirlin.