GIBSON CITY - They’ve shown an ability to play with anyone, and now they have some wins to show for it.
After an 0-5 start, the Falcon volleyball team has gone 5-4 and won four of their last six games.
Entering last weekend’s PBL Classic with a 1-7 record, GCMS surprised everyone by winning three of their five matches to capture sixth place.
Then the Falcons came home Monday and trounced Clifton Central 25-17/25-17 to win their fourth game in three days, surpassing last season’s entire win total of three.
It’s been a mental battle more than a skill battle for the Lady Falcons all season, as most games have been lost after the team held a lead.
Head coach Tom Stone told assistant coach Katie Peterson before Saturday’s first game that having an early morning game would prove the issue was mental.
Without the drama and stress of the daily school day, GCMS looked fresh and defeated a strong Rantoul team 25-20/26-24 to take game one over the eventual third place team.
“They went into the game with fresh minds,” Stone said.
The mental aspect crept back up in game two, where Armstrong-Potomac edged out GCMS 26-24 in match one, then carried that momentum over to a 25-15 match two win.
“We were leading fairly comfortably and then just crashed,” Stone said. “Then we couldn't rebound in the second set.”
While the Falcons lost the first match of the next game 21-25, the squad showed some mental toughness and rebounded with a second set win 26-24 and dominant 15-6 third set win to earn a first place tie in their pool.
GCMS ended up being the odd man out at the bottom of the tiebreaker, which forced them into the consolation bracket.
Ready to prove their worth, the Falcons completely controlled Clinton with a 25-14/25-20 win to put themselves in the fifth place match, where the squad fell to Milford 25-23/25-17 to end their tournament.
“It was a huge damper on the day and very frustrating after how we felt we did in the morning,” Stone said of losing the tiebreaker. “However, they really harnessed the frustration to really control the game against Clinton. The Milford game was just an issue of being exhausted. Our girls are pretty well conditioned, but five games is still quite a task, especially when you play almost every point of every match.”
Brea Walker made the all-tournament team, a nod her coach felt was very well deserved.
“She did a great job of finding ways to get the kill and did a great job on defense and serve receive as well,” Stone said. “Really everyone who played had a strong impact. Alyssa did a great job on the net with some very strong performances and great numbers on hitting. Claire put up a great block all day, Abby did a nice job working to adapt throughout the day and became a lot more aggressive swinging by the last game. Taylor was a setting machine, which lead to some very high assist numbers for some sets. Liz did a great job mixing up her tips and taking some nice aggressive swings through the gap. And as always Jessalyn held up our defense and put up some personal best numbers for digs per match. She positioned herself beautifully and took a lot of hits without hardly having to move.”