Sluggish starts are starting to become a trend for the Manhattan High volleyball team.
Last Saturday at the Shawnee Mission South tournament, the Indians’ slow start against Mill Valley cost them a shot at a perfect day and a tournament win.
In Tuesday’s home-opening triangular sweep with Clay Center and Rossville, Manhattan again struggled to play to its potential early in the opening match.
“I think they were nervous because it was the first home match,” coach Lisa Kinderknecht said of the opener against Clay Center. “What we’ve really worked on, because we have a tendency to let the negative snowball, is I read them a quote and everything we do deals with positive energy and how they’ve got to let the last play go.
“They finally got through that, but it took a while.”
Manhattan won the match in two sets, 25-22, 25-14, but it wasn’t always easy.
Clay Center took an early 5-2 lead and played the Indians even for most of the set. Manhattan went on a 7-1 run midway through the set to take a 17-13 lead, but the Tigers clawed their way back into things, going on a 6-1 run at the end to pull within two points, before Manhattan put it away.
“It took well over half that set to play their game,” she said. “Clay Center’s a good squad, but we just weren’t playing up to our potential.”
In the second set, things went much smoother for Manhattan as the Indians opened the match with a 16-5 run to put it out of reach.
In the second match against Rossville, Manhattan played much better, winning 25-17, 25-14.
In the first set, the Indians took a 9-3 lead early and led 15-6 before playing the Dawgs even the rest of the way for a comfortable win in the first set. In set two, Manhattan’s defense helped it pull away, not giving Rossville any chances to score more than one point at a time behind good blocking and passing.
“We’re blocking better which I was very pleased with,” she said. “We worked on a few things about sending the ball to deep corners, and I think Taylor Good got a shoot-set kill off that. They’re just a great group of girls that really wants to do well and they’re doing everything they can to do it.”
Kaci Cink led the Indians in kills with 13 on the night, while Jessie Kujawa added 10. Lauren Goralczyk had three solo blocks and two assisted blocks to lead the way. Allie Massanet had 17 digs on the night, with Colbi Brooks adding 10.
Of course, Kinderknecht wasn’t pleased with everything. She wants her team to start matches better and she pointed to serving errors as an issue. Against Clay Center, bad serves were the only points the Tigers were scoring early.
“In the second set, we gave them five out of their first six points on missed serves,” she said. “If I was disappointed in anything tonight, it would be the serving.”
In the match between Clay Center and Rossville, the Dawgs came out on top in a close two-set match, winning 25-22, 26-24.
The Indians travel to Topeka Hayden for a tournament on Saturday against some solid teams, including St. Thomas Aquinas (No. 3 in 5A), perennial winner Wichita Bishop Carroll and of course, host Topeka Hayden.