FLORENCE — Rebecca Horton believes only playing time can bring her team together.
Two games, however, is not enough.
Following a straight-set loss in its season opener, Florence committed numerous unforced errors, failed to capitalize on opportunities and allowed leads to repeatedly slip out of its grasp against McGregor on Tuesday, losing 23-25, 25-22, 25-19, 25-23.
For Horton, who is one of only three seniors on the Lady Buffaloes’ roster, the team will come together in time.
“We can’t get down on ourselves for anything or any play,” Horton said. “We just need to keep going and not give up. We just need games definitely. That will help us a lot.”
Despite falling to 0-2 on the season, the Lady Buffaloes showed plenty of fight in defeat.
After a shaky start led to a 15-8 deficit in the first set, Florence scored 15 of the next 19 points as Horton and Shelbie Long engineered a scoring run. The Lady Buffaloes responded by allowing consecutive balls to simply fall between players for points and McGregor thwarted a pair of set points before Florence secured a 1-0 lead.
The Lady Buffaloes found themselves playing catch-up once again in the second set as McGregor used a 12-4 run to build a 20-13 lead. Moments later, the Lady Bulldogs claimed a 24-17 advantage before Florence (0-2) fought off five set points only to lose due to a hitting error.
“It is tough that we can’t be consistent,” Long said. “We have to play strong.”
Florence delivered more of the same in the third set, claiming a narrow 15-14 lead before McGregor took control of the match with an 11-4 run to secure a 2-1 advantage.
A deflated Lady Buffaloes squad then watched McGregor serve up three consecutive aces to start the fourth set. The Lady Bulldogs’ lead grew to 7-0 and eventually 14-5.
“It is (due to a lack of) talking mainly,” Horton, who finished with a team-high 14 kills, said of Florence’s loss. “We lack that.”
Then, Florence began to show signs of consistency, winning 14 of the next 17 points to take a 19-17 lead on Long’s ace. The junior finished with 10 aces. A two-point lead was not be enough, though.
McGregor trailed 22-20, but scored five of the last six points, including the final three to win the match.
“We got excited, but we might have got too excited,” Horton said. “It wasn’t good.”
While disappointed, Long believes the Lady Buffaloes’ late rally defines the team more than the outcome.
“We are hard workers,” she said. “We are going to redeem ourselves in the tough times and play like a team. We are strong individuals in the first place.”
Contact Clay Whittington at firstname.lastname@example.org