Sometimes in sports, a team needs an early wake-up call.
Martins Ferry head volleyball coach Chuck Probst called a timeout early in the first game of the Lady Riders' match against Shadyside to get his players' attention.
The message came across loud enough to get the job done. The Lady Riders improved to 2-1 on the young season by virtue of a 25-17, 25-13 and 25-15 victory over the Lady Tigers, who made noticeable improvement since their first match since 1983 on Monday evening.
"It wasn't one of our best efforts and the girls realize that," Probst said. "They're kind of down because they realize they could have played better, but Shadyside has gotten better and they deserve credit for the improvements they've made. It's tough in your first year, but they've got some good athletes."
The Lady Tigers got their first lead of the season in the middle game, but the progress made was something for head coach Joel Joseph to build on.
"We put ourselves in different locations on defense, we changed up our serve and receive and we had ourselves in places we needed to be, which I think showed," Joseph said. "In the end, it still comes down to experience. The first thing the girls said, in the lockerroom, was 'that was really fun.' From a coaching standpoint, if they're playing hard and having fun, they know they're getting better."
The Lady Riders scored 21 of the final 29 points in the second game and then shot out to a 9-point lead at a juncture in the third game before going on to close out the match.
"A win's a win, so we'll take that, but naturally the team isn't satisfied with this," Probst said. "We have to get better with our sets. Our hitters are there, but we have to set the ball better."
The Lady Riders were led on the stat sheet by senior Shaina Oberdick who had 12 points, six aces, 10 kills and a spike. Jessie Probst had seven kills, five points and three aces.
Cassie Hanson stuffed the stat sheet with three aces, eight points, nine assists, two kills and a dig. Shaye Deleonardis had 11 points, six aces, six assists, three kills and three digs.
Shadyside was led by senior Hayley Holenka's seven points and Karli Bonar's five points.
"We'll definitely take tonight and work from there," Joseph said. "It looked like volleyball, so we can build on that."
Staskey can be reached at email@example.com