Shelly Harris told her players they had to communicate in order to win, but nobody got the message.
After a solid showing in the opening set, on-court miscues and misunderstandings cost Killeen countless opportunities, while self-inflicted errors compounded the problems stemming from a lack of interaction. The combination proved too much to overcome, and Waco Reicher took full advantage of Killeen’s issues, escaping town with a 17-25, 25-20, 25-22, 25-16 victory.
“It just took a couple little things, and we just started falling apart and never mentally got it back together,” Harris said. “Up to this point, they’ve done a great job with communicating. You can hear the back row telling them (what to do), but the communication just fell apart tonight.”
And it broke down at the worst times.
In both the second and third sets, the Lady Kangaroos allowed close scores to slip away before falling into an early hole they could not climb out of in a must-win fourth set.
For senior Chalon Anderson, the performance was extremely frustrating.
“This is pretty painful because I know what type of team we are,” the outside hitter said, “and that wasn’t it.”
The Lady Cougars used an 8-1 run in the second set to build a 13-7 advantage, but Killeen responded with an outburst of its own to pull with a point at 21-20. Reicher capitalized on a pair of unforced errors by the Lady Kangaroos, scoring four consecutive points to tie the match at a set apiece.
Killeen appeared to have regrouped from its collapse during intermission and had the crowd into the match for the first time as it constructed a 9-2 lead that included sophomore Juquana Wilson’s kill off a serve return, sending the home fans into a frenzy. But it would not last, and Reicher chipped away at the deficit before using a 6-1 run to clinch the third set.
“We’re normally a catch-up team, but we let it get the best of us, and we weren’t talking at the end,” junior Sabrina Garcia said. “Our confidence went down once we lost those two games. We thought we could get it to five (sets), but we let it go.”
Killeen donated a pair of points to Reicher in the closing moments of the third by way of having players in the net. The avoidable errors were simply inexcusable, according to Harris.
“There were way to many net calls,” she said. “It was horrible. You think you are going to crawl your way out of this hole, and then something silly like touching the net happens.”
Following the disappointment of falling down 2-1, the Lady Kangaroos entered the fourth set flat, losing 12 of the first 16 points. Killeen never got closer than six points and Reicher capped off the match with a 5-2 run.
Offensively, Anderson and Garcia led the team with 12 kills apiece. Anderson also added a dozen digs, while sophomore setter Madison Sapp finished with a team-high 21 assists to go with eight digs, and teammates Kiana Ware had 15 digs followed by Garcia and Anderson, who posted 14 and 12 digs, respectively.
In the end, however, Anderson believes stats cannot replace communication.
“I know we are a better team when we talk,” she said. “When we don’t talk, that is when we take our worst loses like the one we had tonight.”
Contact Clay Whittington at firstname.lastname@example.org