SERENA — It's hard to get the momentum rolling your way when you keep hitting speed bumps.
The Serena Lady Huskers didn't play badly in their non-conference meeting with Reed-Custer here on Thursday night, but the mistakes that they made were interspersed through their solid play just enough to keep things from going completely their way, and the result was a 25-14, 25-19 loss to the Comets.
The visitors, who played extremely well defensively throughout, broke open the first game with a decisive service run by senior Madelyn Alton, then took charge late in a one-point second set when her momentum-changing block was followed by a three-point burst at the line by Emily Wolf. Those plays gave R-C some separation and, along with the defense, sent it to its fourth win in as many matches.
Serena, which finished with 12 hitting errors and nine passing miscues, drops to 0-3 on the young season.
McKenna Muffler and Maddi Holdiman collected a team-best three points each, while Tori Pavnica registered a four kills and Kiley Shannon 14 digs to pace those categories. After a tough first game in which they managed just three service points and three kills, the Lady Huskers turned the next one around and trailed just 19-18 before the turning point block by Alton.
"(Reed-Custer) plays a unique kind of defense," said Serena coach Katy Severson, "where they pull up their middle back and have the two corners cover, and that makes it hard when you teach your hitters not to swing 6 zone (middle) and they're swinging at corners when there's somebody there every time.
"We came around in the second set, found the short court and threw their offense out of system, and that showed in the score, but when you make hitting errors, you have two communication errors and a couple defensive ones, that's going to keep that momentum from growing."
The Lady Huskers took advantage of some R-C miscues to stay close in the opener, but after closing to within 7-5, Alton slammed a sideout kill, then served up seven consecutive points — three on aces and three on Serena errors — to put the Comets in control.
In the second set, Serena came around and remained close even later, erasing deficits of five and four points to get them down to one at 19-18 on two kills by Pavnica around an R-C error. But Alton posted a block to keep the Huskers from tying it, and Wolf served three straight points, one an ace and two on kills by Maggie Meyr. Kills by Jenny Fiero and Meyr closed it out.
"We knew going into this season that defense was going to be the key for us and we work on it a lot," said R-C coach Kelly Van Duyne. "We have returning (Alton and Wolf) and they were great on defense last year, and with (Maddi Tiangco) coming up this year, they're our passers when the ball is hit hard ... Madelyn's been on the varsity since she was a sophomore and she's been all conference since then, set a school record for digs and we count on her a lot and she came up big for us tonight."