OPPENHEIM - During the second game of Monday's Center State Conference volleyball match against Owen D. Young, St. Johnsville/Oppenheim-Ephratah faced a 20-13 deficit when Coach Brittany Tomek called her team to the sidelines.
"When we get in games, sometimes we get down and can't get back up," Tomek said. "I believe that is what happened in that second game. We tend to break down a little bit. But I believe that when we get behind that service line we can bring ourselves back."
The Hawks responded positively to their coach's words and went to work to dig themselves out of the hole.
St. Johnsville/Oppenheim-Ephratah's Mackenzie Ferguson (10) drives the ball past the block attempt of Owen D. Young's Kristy Hammont (6) during Monday's Center State Conference volleyball match at Oppenheim-Ephratah Central School. (The Leader-Herald/James A. Ellis)
Behind strong service-runs from Grace Yezierski and Brittany Ambrosino, St. JOE stalled the Wildcats at 24 and quickly closed the gap to 24-23 before ODY was able to get the final point for the win.
The Hawks built on their momentum to take control of the match and defeat Owen D. Young 3-1 on game scores of 25-19, 23-25, 25-17 and 25-13.
"We are trying to be consistent and keep our heads up," Tomek said. "They haven't really worked a lot together but they are starting to work a lot better with practice."
After rallying back in the second game, it did not take long for the Hawks (2-3 overall, 1-1 CSC) to take charge in the third game.
Sparked by an eight-point, four-ace service run by Leann Knapp, St. JOE sprinted out to a 10-1 advantage and did not allow the Wildcats to put more than a 3-point run together as the Hawks cruised to a 25-17 win.
After a three-point service run from Ashley Hill to open the fourth game, ODY fought back to tie the game at three on a run by Shelby Talbot.
Knapp again brought the momentum back to the Hawks' side of the net with a five point run that Mackenzie Ferguson backed up with a four point run to put St. JOE up 13-5.
Playing with confidence, the Hawks earned quick side outs against the Wildcats to win 25-13 and lock up their first Center State Conference win of the season.
"They are starting to work well together and trust one another," Tomek said. "At the beginning of the season they weren't really working together and didn't trust each other. They were going everywhere and getting blown out of their spots but now they know where the spots are they need to be and where they should play."
Knapp finished the match with seven aces, 10 kills and four digs, while Ferguson added three kills, eight digs and an ace. Shelby McCumber chipped in with 10 kills and four digs, while Ashley Hill added 17 assists, two aces, two kills and two digs.
"We have been working hard on our passing game because that is where we struggle some, especially on serve receive," Tomek said. "If we get a good pass up for our setter she is going to get it up for our hitters. I am very happy with how they played and I just hope they keep it up."
St. JOE will travel to Westmoreland for its next match before returning home to face Dolgeville on Dec. 21.