Nothing went right in the first set for Ashley. Facing Mideastern Conference foe West Brunswick, the Eagles looked out of sync from the start of Thursday's game.
Ashley couldn't string together more than two consecutive points. The team routinely hit balls out of bounds or into the net. Errors were the norm, not the exception.
It finally changed in the second set and so did the match. The Eagles came back to take a 13-25, 25-22 25-19, 25-22 win over the Trojans.
Ashley coach Jerry Hogan has seen his team have flashes of resiliency all season, but it always seems to be just one or two sets. Thursday's comeback was a pleasant change from the norm.
"When I figure that out, I'll have unlocked the mysteries of coaching. The only thing that I can tell you is they're building a trust for one another. It's something that's had to grow all season," Hogan said.
"It always takes longer to get there than you think. It was good to see it gel tonight. It's not surprising, but it's good."
Ashley (7-7 overall, 2-4 Mideastern Conference) turned the match late in the second set. Down 20-16, the Eagles took possession after West Brunswick sailed a serve out-of-bounds. They proceeded to rally within one, scoring three points consecutively for the first time all night. Ashley closed the set with a 4-0 run, which featured two Hope Mason kills. She led the team with 10 kills and three aces.
A 5-0 run in the second set turned a one-point deficit into a three-point lead, propelling the Eagles to a win.
"Those girls are good. They just started playing," West Brunswick coach Larry Salefsky said. "They didn't play too well the first game, but the next three they played more like what they're able to play like."
The fourth set was another marathon battle. West Brunswick (3-10, 1-5) took a trio of early four point leads. Up 16-12, the Trojans had all the momentum. Then, it was gone.
The Eagles went on a 6-0 run to take their first lead of the set.
The two teams traded points to a 22-22 tie before Ashley sealed the match with a three-point run. Chyna Cotton put down her seventh kill of the night to end the set.
Regrouping from early struggles to a strong finish was something the Eagles were glad to see. It's also something they're hoping to build on.
"At the beginning of the season, that's when things were kind of off with new coach, we were still getting the hang of everything. We know what we're doing now. We realize what we're doing wrong and we've fixed those bad spots," Mason said.
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