DAYTON — The Tongue River volleyball team picked up its first conference win of the season Saturday with a four-set victory over Moorcroft, 25-21, 26-28, 25-13, 25-17.
After losing in straight sets Friday to Wright, the Lady Eagles were able to regain their focus Saturday and defeat the Lady Wolves, thanks in large part to serving and defense. Tongue River totaled 11 aces Saturday, and its defensive play was particularly strong in the third and fourth sets.
The Lady Eagles avenged an earlier loss to Moorcroft, in which the Lady Wolves won a five-set nail-biter, 16-25, 26-24, 14-25, 25-16, 15-13.
The first set Saturday went back and forth, but Tongue River ultimately prevailed. The Lady Eagles had several blocks down the stretch and earned some easy points due to Moorcroft errors.
Tongue River began the second set strong, jumping out to an 8-4 lead thanks to more Moorcroft errors. The Lady Wolves came back to score five straight points, and the teams see-sawed points for the rest of the set.
Trailing 24-22, Tongue River scored three straight points to take a 25-24 lead. The teams traded kills, then Moorcroft had two more kills, and the Lady Eagles made a passing error to lose the set in heartbreaking fashion. It was the sloppiest set of the day for the Lady Eagles, who had several errors at key moments.
The home crowd’s energy was low after losing such a close set, but Tongue River head coach Janelle Manore told her team not to panic. The Lady Eagles certainly did not and dominated the third set from the get-go, taking a 9-2 lead and never looking back.
Tongue River’s service game was particularly strong, and Moorcroft had no answer. The Lady Wolves also had many more unforced errors than they couldn afford, totaling more than 10 in each set.
The fourth set again was controlled by the Lady Eagles, as their defense minimized errors and helped set up an early 7-3 lead. Moorcroft came back to make things interesting, but Tongue River was able to maintain a five- to seven-point lead for most of the set. The Lady Eagles were solid in all aspects of the game in the final set, with excellent defense matched by solid attacking in the form of seven kills.
Manore said one of the keys was the difference in serving. Tongue River had few service faults and was able to maintain a few runs during the match, while Moorcroft had several faults, some that seemed to be spirit-breakers.
Although Tongue River lost to Wright in three sets Friday, Manore said the team played well and was able to build that into a nice win Saturday. Going forward, Manore said the team will emphasize offensive hitting, as she is pleased with how the Lady Eagles are playing on defense.
Only three matches remain for Tongue River until the postseason. The Lady Eagles host Big Horn Thursday during homecoming week. They were swept last month by Big Horn, 25-22, 25-18, 25-22, but Manore said the team is pumped to get another shot at its rival.