Indians roll after slow start
Kaitlyn Stauffenberg (3) of Tamaqua taps the ball over the net past Lehighton's Emily Miller. Watching are the Raiders' Savannah Adams (2) and the Indians' Sydney Vincent (22). RON GOWER/ SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
TJ O'Connor wasn't worried when his Lehighton volleyball team got out of the gate with a trot instead of a sprint.
Slow starts and fast finishes have been a habit so far this season for the Lady Indians, who are hoping to make a statement in the Schuylkill Girls' Volleyball League.
That pattern repeated itself again on Tuesday against Tamaqua.
O'Connor never pushed the panic button, however, and the Indians rewarded his patience, rallying for a 19-25, 25-19, 25-14, 25-18 victory.
"(Tamaqua coach) Emile Baker and her staff had them ready to play in that first set, so it was no surprise they won. But that's the way we've been playing it out so far this season," said O'Connor, who watched his squad improve to 1-1 in league play and 5-1 overall.
The Raiders (0-2, 0-3) took command in the first set, bolting from a 16-16 tie to a 24-17 lead and the eventual victory.
"We just don't finish after winning a set," said Baker. "I think we tire some, I think some of it is a (mental) approach. We just need some confidence.
"When we do find some confidence, these kids can become good."
Lehighton came to the forefront late in the second set. Holding on to a scant 22-19 lead only because it failed at consistency - an Indian service error and two return errors allowed Tamaqua to pull close - Lehighton had the favor returned when Tamaqua gave up two points on errors, before an ace by Junior Lillian Brown sealed the set win.
That late rally seemed to shake some thunder on Lehighton's side of the bench. The Indians took control early in set three, racing in front 22-11 and cruising to the win.
In the fourth and final set, it was much the same for the eventual victors. Lehighton opened up with an 11-4 lead, expanded it to 18-8, and was never headed.
"I feel that if we start to play with some (fire) early it is going to only make us better," said O'Connor. "But for now, we're winning and that's a big boost for our kids."
CROSS FIRES … Lehighton's Emily Miller came up big with 11 kills; Emily Haberman scored four aces; Brown chipped in with 16 digs to go along with four aces; Samantha Banning had 12 digs; and Isabelle Meckess tallied six kills and two blocks. Sarah Bradley started slow, but had a big rush in the final three sets.
OFF THE DECK … Tamaqua's Ella McLaughlin had a terrific night with 22 digs; Kaitlyn Stauffenberg added 16 assists and nine digs; and Amy Hadesty recorded six blocks.
NICE PLAY AT THE NET … Hadesty had a superb play on a joust to post the winning point for the Raiders in the first set.