ORIENT — Two teams still learning how to mesh together squared off here Thursday evening, as Orient-Macksburg edged out Diagonal in a competitive four-set match, 25-10, 25-21, 19-25, 25-16.
Orient-Macksburg has just eight players on its roster this year, and only two of the eight saw significant playing time last year.
“We’ve only got two girls who did much playing last year, and the rest of them are all new,” Orient-Macksburg head coach Dan McKinney said. “We only have eight to begin with, so it’s hard to improve. It really is hard to get everything to click.”
After suffering a Bluegrass Conference loss to Moravia and a non-conference loss to Paton-Churdan already this season, the Bulldogs started to click a little Thursday against Diagonal, which was playing its first match of the season.
It showed as Orient-Macksburg rolled to a 25-10 win in the first game of the night. The Bulldogs started the game scoring the first nine points and at one point, held a 20-3 lead.
“That first game was our very first game ever playing together,” Diagonal head coach Allison Hajek said. “This has been our first match, so I know they had the jitters.”
Once the second game started, Diagonal looked more comfortable on the floor and built an early lead of 7-3.
The Bulldogs eventually battled back and took a 23-18 lead on an Amber Rinke ace. Orient-Macksburg won the second game 25-21.
Orient-Macksburg built an early 8-3 lead in the third game before the Maroonettes stormed back with freshman Allison Norris serving.
Norris served five straight points for Diagonal, including an ace to put Diagonal ahead 9-8.
With a 15-13 lead, Norris got a kill to put Diagonal up 16-13 and Jaci Haidsiak served four straight points to build a 20-13 lead as Diagonal eventually won the third game 25-19.
“I think they just got the jitters out of them and played like they know how to,” Hajek said. “Still not our dream outcome, but they played hard and that’s all I can ask.”
Diagonal’s team consists of five freshmen and two juniors.
The two teams battled back and forth during the early part of the fourth set before Orient-Macksburg took control with six straight points to build a 21-12 lead on its way to a 25-16 win in the game.
“We looked a little better tonight,” McKinney said. “We’re starting to come along. We’ve got a long way to go, but we’re starting to come along. Amber Rinke did a good job tonight. She’s a sophomore, so she’s just doing a good job. She’s really improving fast.”
“Kasydi Klommhaus was just all over the court,” Hajek said. “She’s just scrappy, picking up everything and not giving up on anything. And then Allison Norris had some great serves and she pulled through when we needed her the most.”
Diagonal, now 0-1 overall and 0-1 in the Bluegrass Conference, hosts South Page at 5:30 p.m. Monday. Orient-Macksburg, 1-2 and 1-1, returns to action 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at home against Iowa Christian Academy.
Orient-Macksburg 3, Diagonal 1
Serving (aces) — D: Allison Norris 4, Stormie Buchanan 3, Kasydi Klommhaus 2, Megan Davenport 1.
Attacks (kills) — D: Allison Norris 5, Kasydi Klommhaus 4, Kaitlyn Klommhaus 3, Megan Davenport 2, Stormie Buchanan 1. O-M: Shannon Eads 6, Shyla Waldhauser 5.
Setting (assists) — D: Jaci Haidsiak 6. O-M: Harper Spurrier 11.
Digs — D: Allison Norris 4, Stormie Buchanan 3, Kasydi Klommhaus 2, Megan Davenport 1. O-M: Shannon Eads 3.