Manhattan High volleyball bounced back from losing three straight sets to beat Lawrence and finish 2-1 at its home quadrangular on Tuesday.
Coming off a sweep at the hands of juggernaut Washburn Rural, the Indians (15-19) dropped the first set of their final match of the day to Lawrence.
However, Manhattan — decked out in pink uniforms for breast cancer awareness — recovered from the skid to pull out the 21-25, 25-16, 25-20 win against the Lions.
Indians head coach Nicole Jones said she thought her team played well in its first two matches of the quad, but fell into a “lull” against Lawrence in which it made a series of “careless mistakes.”
“I literally just said in the huddle, ‘I’m glad we mentally were able to push through, and we’re just going to leave it like that,’” Jones said. “...For us, it’s difficult. A lot of it is just that mental side of the game and being mentally tough.”
Tatum Tindall dominated offensively for Manhattan against the Lions, tallying 15 kills, two aces and a block.
“Tatum came back and she was just lights out in that last set,” Jones said. “She was our go-to. She’s always solid.”
Aubree Hoffman had seven kills and 2 1/2 blocks. Jaden McGee had seven kills and two blocks. Faith Kratochvill had five kills and 1 1/2 blocks.
Addi Cox dished out 16 assists while adding two aces and a kill, and Abigail Gruber had two aces.
“I call it ‘Addi mentality,’” Jones said of her junior setter. “She just gets after it and runs a really fast offense. I thought she was solid on her setting tonight.”
The Indians never led in the first set and fell behind by as much as 24-17 before falling 25-21. They took control after that though, never trailing in the second set and only facing a deficit once in the third set after Lawrence took a 1-0 lead.
“We, mentally, always talk about all the time, ‘You just have to pick yourself up,’” said senior Whitney Larchick. “Of course, Jones always talks to us about keeping a good attitude and just controlling what you can, which is your effort. I think it’s really difficult to come up mentally off of three (set) losses, but we’re a mentally tough team, so that’s just what we do.”
Manhattan opened the evening by cruising past Hayden 25-13, 25-17.
Tindall led the Indians again, this time with eight kills, 3 1/2 blocks and three aces. Kratochvil and Hoffman each had four kills, while Larchick, McGee and Ellie Wilson had three apiece. McGee added 1 1/2 blocks, and Cox had 13 assists.
“I thought Hayden was one of our best matches of the night, honestly,” Jones said. “We were super calm. I always tell them, ‘Find your neutral.’ They found their neutral and they were doing exactly what they’re supposed to do. Everyone was doing their job. They were finding the holes in their defense, and it was great.”
Washburn Rural made quick work of Manhattan, winning 25-11, 25-12.
But the Indians — along with their noisy home crowd — brought a level of energy against the one-loss Junior Blues that Jones appreciated.
“It’s always fun to play really, really competitive teams, because you want to do well, you want to shut their biggest hitter down,” she said. “They were excited. I keep telling them, ‘I know you’re capable of competing and beating teams.’ They just have to believe in themselves.”
With two matches remaining on its regular-season schedule, Manhattan currently sits in a tie for eighth place with Derby in the 6A West Regional. The Indians will have a week off before hosting Maize South and Salina South in a triangular next Tuesday.
Jones said that she hopes her team plays “with freedom” the rest of the season.
“Your value doesn’t depend on whether you win or lose, and I really hope they buy into that,” she said. “I want them to give it everything they’ve got, especially my three seniors (Hoffman, Larchick and Wesley Zeka).”