by Marcos Aragon
For Tstreet 18-Troy and the Milwaukee Sting 18 Gold, who both entered Saturday’s 18 Elite matchup at 0-2, a win was monumental for the rest of their weekend at the Triple Crown Volleyball NIT.
Ultimately, Sting head coach Scott Blackmon felt being winless early wasn’t a huge problem; instead, he was more concerned with his team not playing for each other when they needed it.
“We have not played very well on Day 1 at any tournament, so we weren’t too worried with the two losses -- we know we’re better, we made a crap ton of errors,” said Blackmon. “The biggest thing is the kids didn’t do a very good job of playing for one another, playing together. They did a much better job of coming together in that last match and keeping the intensity level a little bit higher.”
From the opening serve, the Sting found themselves down early on the wrong side of strong play from the Tstreet hitters. The first set was a back-and-forth affair up until 18-18 when the Sting had two key blocks to give them a 20-18 lead. They would not look back after that and went on to win 25-20.
The second set was the Sting’s right away as they lead wire to wire. They closed out Tstreet 25-19, behind excellent team defense and a few timely kills during rallies.
“Defensively, I thought we did a lot better,” said Blackmon, “Our setters have not been playing the best defense today, and I think in the last match the setters did a much better job playing defense and that was a big difference maker. They just got after it. I just think mentally they were more engaged in that match than they have been all day, that’s the bottom line.”
Mia Grunze of the Sting made her presence known along the net with strong swings and tough blocks but is proud of all of the girls on her team for cheering each other on and making sure the team chemistry didn’t blow up.
“I think in that match we really played for each other and came together and encouraged each other whereas in the previous matches today we were a little off on that. Once we pulled it together, that’s what helped us out,” said Grunze.
“It helps us individually if somebody makes a mistake and nobody cheers you on, it brings everybody down so then our whole level of play goes down,” added Grunze, “If you know you can come to the middle to your team and they believe in you and they know you can get the next ball, it takes a little more stress off of you and lets you play harder and play all out easier.”