By Clay Horning
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — The comeback story that is Norman High volleyball hit a pothole Tuesday night at the refurbished palace that is the NHS Gym.
In a matchup of a couple programs that entered the court with the same record, it was Moore pulling out the win Tuesday night, claiming a 3-1 victory (25-23, 24-26, 25-20, 25-23) in a quartet of tough sets.
Inconsistency was NHS’ bugaboo, as the Tigers got off to horrid starts in three of four sets, falling behind 6-1 in the opener, 9-2 in the second and 9-3 in the third.
Perhaps taxed by so many comebacks, NHS (5-8) couldn’t hold its edge in the final set after jumping out to a 5-2 lead.
“I think we just had a lot of good plays but we couldn’t execute in the end,” second-year Tiger coach Randi Lewis-Coffey said. “The execution we needed to finish those tough plays was the problem that we had tonight.”
Moore (6-7) played a big role. If the Lions weren’t putting the ball away, they tended, at least, to keep it in play, extending dozens of exchanges to the point a Lion would come up with a winner or a Tiger with an error.
Aria Lewis led both teams with 15 kills, nine more than any Tiger, but the star might have been Emily Lynch, who kept so many points going with 20 digs.
NHS received six kills each from Kyla Newell and Rachel Wesson, while 6-foot-3 freshman Ryan Emmert made her presence felt with nine blocks. Still, a tell-tale sign of NHS’ struggle to finish off points, its two setters — Niki Milby-Darrow and Brooke Champeau — only combined on 15 assists.
Strangely, the one set the Tigers pulled out was the one in which they slipped into the biggest hole, fighting back from 9-2, 18-10 and 24-22 deficits. NHS claimed the third set by running off four consecutive points. Newell came up with three kills and a block as the Tigers won 16 of the set’s last 22 points.
That comeback was emblematic of the team NHS believes it can be.
“We have so much talent on this team it’s unbelievable,” said Newell, who pointed to a 25-8 set victory against a good Enid team earlier in the season as the kind of volleyball the Tigers are capable of playing. “When we play the way we know how to play, it’s crazy how good we are. We just need to pull it all together.”
Lewis-Coffey saw both the good and the bad from her team Tuesday.
“When we’re really doing well, we’re fighting to score on every single ball that comes to us,” she said. “When we’re not doing so well, we’re just kind of fighting to survive and it just gets kind of sloppy and disjointed.”
Sometimes the good and the bad would converge in the same points, simply because the Lions kept them going.
“They’re a good team and it was an evenly matched match,” Lewis-Coffey said. “On our side, we just had too many unforced errors.”
NHS will be busy trying to get back in the win column. Friday and Saturday, the Tigers are at the Jenks tournament. Tuesday and Thursday of next week, they’re at Putnam City North and Midwest City.
As Newell said, there’s a lot of season left to “put it all together.”
Listen to Transcript sports
editor Clay Horning and Transcript sports writer Michael Kinney at 6 tonight on KREF-AM 1400’s “Prep Sports Roundtable” discussing the area high school football scene.