ARLINGTON — The Lady Eagles won their first match of the season on Monday, Sept. 16, in a non-league competition against Redmond.
“This is our first match and it’s Redmond’s fourth, so we had some nervous jitters at first,” said head coach Chad Palmiter. “For them it was probably just another match, but it was our big home opener so there were definitely some nerves at play, but we fought through it and I was really proud of the girls for that.”
The Eagles won 3-2 in a five-game match, winning their first game, 25-16, but losing the next two to Redmond, 26-24 and 25-20. Palmiter said that he didn’t have to say much to get them to rally back for a victory — they were already getting prepared.
“I didn’t say a whole lot to them after the third game,” he said. “I let them just deal with it and bring it. By the time I turned in the lineup, I got over there and my captains were already talking people up saying, ‘We just have to play our ball.’ This is biggest crowd we’ve had in quite some time — we had a student section and cheerleaders bringing the energy — and for a while there it turned into nervous energy. But the girls figured it out, and I just told them, ‘You’ve got to play your game. You’ve got to do it for yourselves.’ I walked away and let them sort it out, and they did.”
The win wasn’t the first success for the team however, despite being their first match.
“This is a good start,” said Palmiter. “We played in a tournament last weekend and got third place. The people we lost to were the teams that won. We played pretty well and I think we are starting to gel. It’s a good night to just get that first match behind you. We were practicing and practicing and practicing, and then we had the tournament, and then another week of practice. I think the girls were like, ‘Okay, we want to do this thing.’ We are going to move on from that. We are going to continue to grow.”
The momentum was almost lost in the fourth game when senior captain Brooke Johnson slipped on a wet spot on the court, landing on her hitting wrist.
“She fought through it and said, ‘I’m okay.’ She came back and got a lot of great kills,” said Palmiter. “She is a senior captain, the heart of the team, and I didn’t want to pull her unless I really, really had to. She ended up getting 12 kills and six aces. A good portion were in the fourth game. The whole team showed in the fourth that they were pretty solid. They kept them to 13. The fifth game is always tough, but they fought through it and did a great job. That took grit.”
Junior captain Audrey Frolich, outside hitter, had some impressive hits, with 15 kills.
“She was just hitting really quick and was firing away,” said Palmiter. “Shelby [Shackelford], one of our setters, ended up with 22 assists, so she was definitely feeding into a lot of those kills. Our outside hitters did a great job. I plan on seeing more people get involve and contribute more. It’s great to see more people getting more involved. Jessie [Landis] did a good job tonight. I’d like to see us go to Jessie some more, but when our passing is off it’s hard to set to the middle. When our passing is better, we are working on getting three hitters.”
The Eagles face Stanwood in an away match on Thursday, Sept. 19, at 7 p.m.