By EARL WATT
• Leader & Times
Sometimes, the best coaches don’t always have the answers.
While the southwestern heights Lady Mustangs were struggling to a 1-3 performance at the Liberal Tournament, head coach Julie Tucker was trying everything. And nothing was working.
“That’s what is so frustrating,” Tucker said. “You do something silly to lighten the mood, you yell, you coddle. The girls have to be able to pick themselves up, and they couldn’t do it. It didn’t matter what other influences there were, they couldn’t get it together.”
The Lady Mustangs opened the tournament with a win over Hugoton, 25-15, 25-15.
Against Colby, the Lady Mustangs fell 25-14, 25-17.
There was a chance to rebound against Elkhart, a team the Lady Mustangs defeated earlier in the week.
But Tucker said Elkhart wanted it more, Heights fell 25-21, 13-25, 24-26.
“Elkhart was scrappy,” Tucker said. “They wanted to win worse than we did. They were busting their tails. They kept the ball alive and let us make mistakes. We made unforced hitting errors, and we did not make any adjustments. We didn’t grow as a team that day at all.”
The Lady Mustangs finished the day with a 25-17, 25-17 loss to Dodge City.
“Our passing was so bad, and our setting was so bad, so I decided to change rotation against Dodge,” Tucker said. “That didn’t help. I was trying anything to improve our level of play.”
After matches, Tucker has her captains fill out a report.
“They all said they couldn’t get it pulled together,” she said. “I have some inexperience on the court and they did not handle the pressure well. They started showing negative attitudes, stopped playing as a team.”
Tucker is rebuilding her squad that always had a leader emerge, but so far, she is still looking for that court general to take charge and rally the team when adversity comes.
“I have three key positions held by sophomores and juniors,” she said. “I have three seniors that never had to be the leader, there was always somebody above them. We are lacking somebody to take charge and pull us together.
“Nobody can help them in the stands or the bench,” Tucker added. “They have to do it on their own.”
The Lady Mustangs went back to work on Monday to solve some of the mechanical issues, and the result Tuesday was much better at the Cimarron Triangular.
Heights defeated Cimarron 23-25, 25-20, 25-11 and then knocked off rival Meade, 25-8, 25-20.
“It went much better than Saturday,” Tucker said “We worked on serve receives and trying different formations. We worked different girls into the setter roles mostly to help them see how much bad passing affects the setter’s job. Our passing improved yesterday, that was nice. It is impossible to make a good set off a bad pass. Our serving was pretty good.”
The attitude on the court changed as well. Tucker said there was a drive to win.
“We had a lot of fire,” Tucker said. “They were ready to redeem themselves from such a bad performance on Saturday.”
Heights (9-4, 6-0) will return to Cimarron Thursday, Cimarron and Scott City Thursday. Scott City probably in our Sub-state.
“They have a great team at Cimarron,” Tucker said. “They have a dominant hitter. When she gets set, she will get a kill. We are not overlooking them at all. It’s a totally new day.”