LEWISTOWN - After playing Millersburg on Wednesday, the Mifflin County volleyball team might have been basking in the light of a 3-0 win.
But when the Huskies hosted Commonwealth Division opponent Cumberland Valley on Thursday, they felt the harsh whiplash of losing three straight sets to be on the wrong end of that same 3-0 score.
Two factors worked against Mifflin County in the loss - its own mental mistakes, and Cumberland Valley's height advantage.
With neither team keeping service of the ball very long, defense was the key to the win. And in the end, Cumberland Valley's tall team and calm approach pulled out the win for the Eagles.
Cumberland Valley's girls seemed to tower above the Huskies, and this made it tough for Mifflin County to do much on offense or defense. Mifflin County had trouble scoring on the Eagles' defense, scoring only 16, nine and 10 points in each of the three sets, and even on the rare occasions when the momentum seemed to swing in Mifflin County's favor, Cumberland Valley's Kelly Friers was there to nip it in the bud.
Friers was tall and could jump, so it seemed every time Mifflin County began to put something together, Friers would come flying in with a kill to block the Huskies' momentum.
IF YOU GO
* Mifflin County travels to Halifax Monday
But it wasn't just Friers who kept Mifflin County out of the match. The Huskies' own mental errors also played a large role in the loss.
Whereas Cumberland Valley would stay calm and keep the ball in play whenever Mifflin County put them in a tough spot, the Huskies would crumble under the pressure and knock the ball way out of bound whenever faced with a tough situation.
"I know in the first we were taking advantage of the weaknesses in (Cumberland Valley's) defense and they weren't moving well," Mifflin County coach Matt Kern said. "But in the second and third (sets), the roles were reversed. We were having gaps in our blockers, we weren't moving well for roll shots, and not reading things well. (Cumberland Valley) recovered a lot of balls that on our side we let drop. I do think it's all mental mistakes at this point. (My team) knows what to do; they're just getting caught off guard."
Mifflin County didn't keep service of the ball for longer than four points in a row, and that seriously impeded the Huskies' ability to score. But what Kern saw as the major flaw in his team's performance was its inability to recover from errors and revise it's approach.
"That's the goal on defense - fix your mistakes. And (Cumberland Valley) did a little bit better job of fixing their mistakes," Kern said.
But even if the match ended on a grim note, Mifflin County at least came out strong in the first set. Going up 7-3 early in the set, Mifflin County was moving to the ball well, making strong passes, and taking advantage of Cumberland Valley's miscues.
But, Cumberland Valley's Elizabeth Scott came out with a serve the Huskies found difficult to handle, and tied the score at 8-8. The teams then held even for a few possessions, but Cumberland Valley eventually broke away to win the set 25-16.
Mifflin County (5-13) travels to Halifax on Monday.