The Crusaders came off of a huge win Tuesday night to fall in three sets to Montreat College Thursday evening. The Cavaliers jumped out to an 8-2 lead in the first set and the Crusaders never recovered, losing 25-18, 25-19, 25-22. Sophomore Charlotte Swain said of the team’s play, “[We were] defeated and deflated from the start.” Added senior Amanda Bouchillon, “We talked about the game afterwards in the locker room and decided that we had taken Montreat for granted and not respected their ability to compete.”
Montreat used a tough defense and an off speed game to keep the Crusaders out of their rhythm. While the Crusaders blocked more balls into the opponent’s court than ever before, the Cavaliers had a strong block coverage and kept the ball in play.
A chaotic warm up also contributed to the defeat. “We are a young team,” said Coach Axson, “and mental focus, or lack thereof, will continue be one of our struggles. Young teams rely on discipline and routine to keep that focus. When you walk into a gym and the required game clock isn’t working, it’s hard to establish your set warm-up routine because you never know when they will start the game. Add to that the official’s miscalculating and taking away half of our passing warm-up time and giving it to the other team, combined with an unsportsmanlike, rushed announcement of our starting lineup, it was enough to rattle our kids. No, it shouldn’t have affected our level of play, but it takes a mature team and a mature coach to work through that, and experience and maturity is something that we are developing, both in myself as a coach and in our team.”
For the game, Amanda Bouchillon led the team with 18 digs and 5 kills. Charlotte Swain had 5 kills and 1 block. “I am proud of Charlotte’s block, “said Coach Axson “as we have been working on her left arm strength and position when blocking their right side hitter. Today she corrected that.” Kaitlyn Pierce also had 2 blocks for the game, while Gabby McKinley had 11 digs and 18 assists.
The Crusaders are excited about this weekend’s upcoming games at Southern Wesleyan. “We know what we did wrong at Montreat, and we feel confident that we can correct that by Saturday, “concludes Axson.