Jill Harris was struggling for something positive to say.
The Pahrump High School volleyball coach knows she has a good team this year, she just didn’t see it on the court Wednesday night even though the Trojans did outlast SLAM Academy 25-19, 20-25, 25-17, 23-25, 15-11 in Pahrump.
“I’ll go with Kate Daffer had a really good game,” said Harris, noting the junior finished with 9 kills. Daffer also had 4 digs.
But the coach in her could not shake the problems she saw on the court, starting with the fact the match went five sets.
“It should not have,” Harris said. “We are a better team than that.”
By far the biggest issue for Harris on the stat sheet was 12 service errors.
“Twelve missed serves,” she said. “That’s 12 points. That’s brutal. Missed serve is a brutal error, and 12 of them!
“I’m hoping it’s just a bad night. That was the part that made the biggest difference in our game tonight. You make a good play, you get a good run, and then you miss a serve. It takes the wind out of your sails.”
Harris did allow for one other element that might have played a role in the match.
“We tried a couple of different rotations tonight, too, and that’s hard to play with,” she said, concluding that while her team seemed most comfortable in the rotation they played most toward the end of the match, that might not be their best one as the season goes along.
The first set was tight most of the way, with the Trojans taking a small lead and the Bulls pulling even a few times. The pattern didn’t break until the end, as Pahrump Valley scored 6 of the last 7 points for a 25-19 win.
The second set was the same in reverse. While the Trojans again kept taking small leads only to see the Bulls pull even, this time it was the visitors who took over down the stretch, Pahrump Valley took a 20-18 lead only to see SLAM win the last 7 points of the set, the last two when kill attempts by the Trojans found nothing but net.
It looked as if the third set would provide the turning point in the match, with a little humor thrown in. Senior Kylie Stritenberger inadvertently got in the way of a serve sailing long, and while it cost the Trojans a point it got a chuckle out of Harris.
Just two points later, the same situation occurred, only this time Stritenberger steered clear, the Trojans got the point and cheers broke out from the Pahrump Valley students in the bleachers.
The Trojans scored the next 7 points to take their biggest lead of the night at 23-13, then survived a couple of minor hiccups for a 25-17 win and a 2-1 lead in the match.
But the momentum did not last.
Once again, the teams went back and forth in the fourth set, tying 10 times, the last at 23-23. But consecutive kills by the Bulls forced a deciding fifth set.
After falling behind 4-3, the Trojans did not trail the rest of the way. Despite three more serves into the net, they kept the lead and sealed the win on a SLAM double hit.
“I’m glad we won,” Harris said. “We can play better, and that’s the part I find the most frustrating. We have kids out there hanging their heads and pouting.”
Maddie Hansen finished with 8 assists, while Kalea Whitney returned 22 serves with just 1 error. Whitney and Tayla Wombaker joined Daffer with 4 digs, but the Trojans totaled more dig errors (20) than digs (18).
But those 12 missed serves were still in the front of Harris’ mind as she went over the events of the evening.
“And we didn’t even miss a serve going over the net,” she said. “We hit the net all the time. At least if you get it over the net the other team’s got to think about it. They’ve got to decide whether it’s in or out. When it hits the net, they don’t have to do any thinking.”
The Trojans will have a full week to think about getting serves over the net before they open Sunset League play against Democracy Prep.
The Trojans swept the Blue Knights twice last season and will look to continue their mastery of them beginning at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Pahrump.