With its back against the wall in the home opener, the Fort Lewis College volleyball team found another gear Thursday night inside Whalen Gymnasium. The Skyhawks clawed back from a two-set deficit against Western New Mexico and won their Skyhawks Classic opener in five sets, 17-25, 19-25, 25-22, 25-17, 16-14.
Bailey Longacre was a signature piece of the comeback after she led the Skyhawks with 13 kills, while freshman Kamryn Lopez was key in the libero position with 12 digs. Alexa Treguboff added nine kills after she moved to the right outside hitter role.
“If there was a highlight, the comeback was it,” said FLC head coach Tricia Melfy. “I expected a bit more tonight, but what I saw out there when we were down two sets was phenomenal. They weren’t stressed, we just had to play a little bit better. Set 3 wasn’t that pretty, either, but we kept going from there and we found a way.”
Mustangs head coach Holly Watts said they were looking to feed the outside hitters and middle attackers more, but Fort Lewis’ adjustments made it difficult.
“Overall, Fort Lewis just really cut down on their errors,” Watts said. “They had a lot of errors early in the match but took care of it. We couldn’t handle it when they started putting the ball into play more. We weren’t winning the rallies, and they were.”
The Skyhawks (3-3) got off to a slow start, as they went down 9-1 early in the first set and were unable get the deficit down from eight points.
In the second, the Mustangs (2-3) were able to pull away for a set victory after they went on a 6-0 run after the Skyhawks held a brief lead at 11-9.
In the third set, the Skyhawks took an early 8-5 lead and would later increase it to 18-13 after Longacre had a key kill.
In the final three sets, the Skyhawks combined for a total of 12 hitting errors. They had 15 through the first two sets.
“Later in the match, I told the girls to go back to basics instead of trying for a different attack option,” Melfy said. “I think going back to basics was the focus, really. We were able to get more ball control, and I think that’s why we were able to cut down on our errors.”
In the fourth, FLC’s outside hitters and middle blockers were clinical, as the Skyhawks had a .189 hitting percentage compared to 0.26 from WNMU. Longacre had four kills, while four other Skyhawks had two apiece. Freshman Payton Harmann recorded seven assists and four digs in the set, and had a .333 hitting percentage. Moss was still dangerous for the Mustangs, as she had six kills.
In the decisive final set, Western New Mexico got off to a 4-1 lead before the Skyhawks called an early timeout. FLC’s Courtney Bayles and Wedhorn then put together a mini rally of their own to make it 6-5. It was back and forth from there, as both teams traded points for the majority of the fifth set. The teams were tied at 10, 12 and 14 before two attack errors by the Mustangs ended it at 16-14 with a win for the Skyhawks.
Moss led all players with 22 kills, while Maggie Roe had 10 kills. Sarah Campoli dished out 38 assists. The Mustangs will face Adams State at 9:30 a.m. Friday.
Fort Lewis will have three games the remainder of the tournament, as it will face Texas A&M International at 3:30 p.m. Friday and then will take on the fourth-ranked Washburn University (4-0) at 7:30 p.m. inside Whalen Gymnasium. The Skyhawks will then close out the tournament against West Texas A&M at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
“I think we’ve got a great shot if we play a little bit more under control,” Melfy said. “There are a lot of really talented teams here, and we just need to relax a little bit. We’re going to have to relax and play some more basic ball and get ourselves more in a rhythm to have opportunities against these good teams.”