It seemed like deja vu all over again for the Hunting Hills Lightning.
On Tuesday the Lightning dropped the opening two sets of their best-of-five Central Alberta 4A girls’ zone volleyball semifinal to the Notre Dame Cougars, before changing back to win 3-2.
On Thursday the Lightning fell behind the Lindsay Thurber Raiders 2-0 in the opening game of the best-of-three zone final before winning the third set and taking a lead in the fourth. But in the end the Raiders proved to be too much, recording a 25-19, 25-20, 23-25, 25-20 victory at Hunting Hills.
“I thought we played better tonight than we did Tuesday, but Thurber is a very good team and you can’t make mistakes against them, or they’ll make you pay,” said Lightning head coach Blake MacKay. “We made one or two mistakes toward the end of the sets we lost and they’d take a two or three point lead, then another mistake and that’s the game. We’ve had problems finishing all season and that was the case again tonight.”
On the other hand the Raiders, who are ranked sixth in the province, played a solid match with their only letdown coming midway through the third set. They held a 19-12 lead before letting it slip away,.
“We’ve been working on maintaining our level of consistency all season, but in that third set there’s no doubt we lost the momentum and couldn’t recover,” said Raiders head coach Kirsten DeZutter, whose squad lost focus, especially with their passing.
“We talk about that all the time,” she said. “If we pass well the rest will come. We work on it at practice, but without the passing our setter (Molly Rumohr) was forced to run around and forced to only set to the outside.”
But to the Raiders credit they were able to refocus early in the fourth set and slowly regained control.
“We understand every point is important and we have to battle for every point,” said DeZutter. “As well we try to serve aggressively to force the other team away from what they like to do. And Hunting has a good team with strong hitters on the outside and in the middle. It was definitely a battle between us and it’s important for us to continue to play well tomorrow.”
The teams meet again tonight at 6 p.m. at LTCHS with the boys’ contest, between the Raiders and Cougars, to follow.
DeZutter had the option of playing the first game at home, but felt they could have success on the road.
“We’re comfortable anywhere we play,” she said. “We play our game and on our side of the net and it doesn’t matter what gym we’re in. But it will be nice to go home.”
MacKay doesn’t mind heading down the hill to Thurber.
“Our goal hasn’t changed, we still have to win two games,” he said. “I don’t think it matters were we play. It’s still Red Deer and everyone knows each other. We’ve played a lot of matches in their gym,, but we still have a big hill to climb.”
If the Lightning win tonight the third game goes Saturday at LTCHS.