The final two plays in the Oak Ridge-Christian Brothers nonleague volleyball match Thursday told the story. A clutch Trojan save they watched fall and then a collision on the next serve were typical of a mistake-prone, erratic evening by the Oak Ridge side that resulted in a 26-24, 17-25, 23-25, 20-25 loss to the visiting Falcons.
Troy held off a first-game comeback by Christian Brothers to take the first set in overtime. Rachael McVicar’s crosscourt kill and Haley Simmons’ stuff at the net put a winning game in Oak Ridge’s column but the hosts stumbled in game two, lost a lead in No. 3 and trailed the entire fourth with exception to several early ties.
“That pretty much summed it up,” Oak Ridge coach Becky Potter said after watching the Trojans muff the last two points. “This team can’t play under pressure — we’re too timid and lack maturity when it comes to crucial times.”
The Trojans came in after a four-game loss to Rocklin earlier in the week. Despite the setback, Potter preferred that effort to the one she witnessed Thursday.
“We had that never-say-die mentality against Rocklin while tonight we took volleyball for granted and didn’t have any heart or desire like I know we have,” Potter said.
In the Falcons, Oak Ridge went against a former Sierra Valley Conference rival. Christian Brothers, lacking the star-power its had on past teams, brought a solid core of players whose workman-like style chipped away at any home-court advantage Troy had hoped for.
Though Thursday’s match went four games, it lasted longer as rallies dominated play. Oak Ridge’s core defense of Maddie Chambliss, Alexa Becker and Nicolette Tsivikas held ground while their counterparts did the same.
A Tsivikas save led to Becker’s kill as Troy pulled to within 16-21 in the second game and after a timeout, a Falcon violation tightened the score. Seemingly holding momentum, the bottom fell out for Oak Ridge as its dump attempt was short and back-to-back stray bumps were tapped down by Christian Brothers before a second-touch errant pass tied the match.
The Trojans regained control in the third set but the Falcons inched closer, finally catching Oak Ridge at 22-all. Two Troy mishits preceded a lift call on Christian Brothers which took a 2-1 game lead on Nicole Jedrzynski’s deflected kill.
Needing a comeback, Oak Ridge kept it close behind kills from Mysha Davies, Simmons, Stephanie Guest and Becker. Simmons’ tip over the Falcon block had the Trojans within 18-20 but Christian Brothers closed on a 5-2 run to end it.
“I think we just didn’t … we weren’t as confident as we normally are,” said Simmons searching for the right words. “Everyone is feeling nervous. We have a starter (Arden Zuber, ankle) injured and everyone feels they have to overstep their roles.”