KNAPPA - "This is what was supposed to happen last Thursday," said Knappa volleyball coach Terry Hardy, after his team's three-game sweep over visiting Jewell Monday night.
Hardy, the Logger's first-year volleyball coach, was referring to Knappa's season opener last week at Jewell, in which the Loggers won the first two games, then lost the next three in a lengthy five-game loss to the Bluejays.
Monday night at Knappa, the two teams met again. Same play, different ending.
The Loggers won the first two games, 27-25, 25-13, then put the Jays away in Game 3, 25-19.
It's all part of the learning process on how to finish a match, Hardy said.
"They're learning to get up over the hump and push through," he said. "We served poorly in that first game, but we've got some great leadership on the floor. Tracie Nygaard and Nadra Evans seem real focused, and they keep everybody inside the court.
"That match last Thursday was real interesting, because the tempo was real slow and flat," he added. "We won the first two, then lost the third, fourth and fifth games, although I thought we matched up a lot better in the last two games. You had to hand it to Jewell, though - they dug up a lot of stuff."
Jewell held an 8-5 lead in Monday's first game, but Knappa's Corey Jacobson went on a serving streak, reeling off six straight points to give the Loggers an 11-8 lead.
The Bluejays came back and held 15-14 and 25-24 leads, but they couldn't come up with the final point and Knappa scored the final three for the win.
Jewell led the second game 6-3, before the Loggers used a kill from Jacobson and a service ace from Krista Varner to spark a 15-2 run, as Knappa cruised to the win.
"After the second game, I really wanted our players to stay focused," Hardy said. "The girls were up and kind of excited, but as soon as they stepped on the court, we went right back to what we've been doing all along - teaching and encouraging and showing them how to work through mistakes, showing them how to celebrate the little victories, and also how to push the momentum, since this is a game of momentum."
An ace serve from Nygaard, along with kills from Nygaard and Evans, gave the Loggers a seemingly safe 18-11 lead in Game 3.
But with a flashback of their big comeback last week, the Jays fought back to within 18-16, as Sarah Seeley had a pair of ace serves and Sam Uerling added a kill to cap the 5-0 run.
But the Jewell comeback was not to be. Knappa took advantage of a few attack errors by the Jays down the stretch, the match point coming on a Jewell net violation.
"(The Jays) were a little tight in their passing tonight," Hardy said. "I don't know whether it was because we were hitting the ball pretty hard or not, but they were having a tough time getting the ball to the setter."
Meanwhile, the learning will continue, on both sides. The Bluejays and the Loggers are two of the youngest teams around.
"Tracie (Nygaard) will be our only player not coming back next year," Hardy said. "Jewell's young too. They've got some freshmen and sophomores who can pass the ball.
"We're doing a lot of teaching, and we're still learning things," he said. "Every little win that we can get right now is good and positive. I liked that first game - 27-25. Those are important games to play and important games to win.
"I think we're starting to do some good things, and we're turning some corners. I can't tell you where we'll be at the end of the season. My expectations are that we enjoy things and learn how to the play the game."