By Michael Kinney
The Moore American
MOORE — Sports Editor
The 2013 volleyball season officially got into full swing over the weekend with the Jaguars Invitational. Westmoore hosted seven other teams from around the state in the annual tournament.
Unlike past year, it was the Jags who came away with the tourney championship when they defeated Muskogee 3-2 in the title match Saturday.
“Our team really improved over the two days,” Westmoore coach Jeff Boyland said. “We lost to Muskogee in pool play 3-0 and made a few critical adjustments and the players responded well to those adjustments. We ended up 4-1 on the tournament and are 5-1 on the season.”
The eight team field included Midwest City, Mustang, Putnam City North, Putnam City and Moore.
The Lions came into the tourney riding a two game losing streak to start the season and lost its first two games Friday. But they responded by winning two of the final three matches the rest of the way.
However, first year coach Deidra Rader was looking for more from her squad.
“Our stats are pretty solid, but we aren’t finishing,” MHS coach Deidra Rader said. “We won the first set of four out of five matches, but only won two of those matches. We are doing are better job of utilizing the serve reception pass and going with a quick tempo set to get the sideout.”
Rader said she liked what she saw from junior Aria Lewis. The middle blocker made the all tournament team. Megan Holmes also had a solid performance for the Lions.
Even though Moore didn’t win it all, Rader said the team did learn more about itself during the two days.
“We’ve seen how mental and physical fatigue can hinder our play,” Rader said. “We were in Tulsa on Thursday night, got home late, and then played two days straight of volleyball. It was a tough schedule for us to start our first week with. Now that the girls have to balance school work and a rigorous volleyball schedule, I will be emphasizing time management and good sleep routines so we won’t hinder our success.”
Boyland also learned more about his Jaguars. Especially when it was forced to comeback to earn a hard fought championship.
“We played with a lot of heart and determination,” Boyland said. “Even when we were down, the team continued not to give up. I was impressed with the way our team was coachable. They executed our game plan more and more as the tournament went on. I think they learned that they can play with anyone who we face. Even though our experience level is low, they are understanding now that every point matters.”
Junior Kelsey M. Taylor and senior Anna Fitzpatrick earned All-Tournament team selections. The Jags also got strong play from Keely Waters and Cara Williamson played well.
Westmoore was back on the court Tuesday when it hosted Norman North. It will travel to Mustang Thursday to face the Bronchos again after playing them during the Invitational. MHS will be at Choctaw Thursday.
Yet, with school back in, coaches are just looking for their players to find their normal routine now.
“We practice in the evenings so they will have study hall during sixth hour,” Boyland said. “That is not normal for most programs but it is teaching the team to be flexible and adapt to change. This will help them on the court. We have two difficult matches this week and the team is excited to see how they do.”