(Editor’s note: A technical problem prevented this story from appearing in Wednesday’s edition of the Journal.)
SPRING MILLS — The opener against Shawn Martz and his defending state champion Applemen volleyball team may seem like a nightmare to most, but Spring Mills coach Haley Wolff rose to the challenge head-on . Preaching to his daughters not to back down, the Cardinals (0-1) forced four sets but eventually fell to powerful attacks from Musselman, 3-1.
“Getting started with Musselman is never easy. Shawn runs a great program,” Wolff said. “I’m so proud of our girls and it gave us a starting point. You couldn’t tell when they were down because that they never stopped fighting. That’s something I’m glad is happening in Game 1; we push through our obstacles and we’re going to rise from here.
The Applemen (1-0) won set 1 with a dominating 25-11 victory before heating up even further and winning set 2, 25-7. The third set also looked to be Musselman’s, but the Applemen froze as the Cardinals took advantage of multiple unforced errors. Although Musselman fought to the end, tying the score at 23-23, Spring Mills managed to take the lead to win set 3, 25-23.
The Cardinals’ hot hand was short-lived, however, as the hosts fell far behind Musselman and ultimately lost 25-11.
Martz, now 24 years in charge of the Applemen, noted that while the win over an opponent from the Eastern Panhandle Athletic Conference was great, his team needed to play more consistently and not let opponents run long runs before the game. Nike Tournament of Champions Southeast Tournament this weekend in Tampa, Florida.
“We played three good sets and one bad set,” Martz said. “I don’t know how many mistakes there were in that set, so it’s disappointing to start the season with that. I know it was only one set, but it’s just a little disappointing We need to play more regularly.
“We have to play better this weekend; we face the best teams in the country.
As for Spring Mills, despite the loss, getting Musselman past three sets is a feat. Plus, by starting with a top competition like the Applemen, it highlights small details that need to be ironed out before the Cardinals play in Hedgesville on Sept. 6.
“We need to work on serve-receiving, staying low on the pass, not hitting it, definitely communication, just minor things to tweak,” Wolff said. “There are only small things to change.”
Ada McCoy led the Applemen with eight kills in the victory, followed by reigning Gatorade Player of the Year Hannah Howard with seven. Howard also led digs with 12. Additionally, Addison Walker had six aces and Bella Hutzler had 18 assists.
Regarding Howard, Martz was pleased with her performance on Tuesday night and moving forward, he has two goals in mind for her.
“You just have to dominate and be a consistent leader,” he said. “I don’t know exactly what to put my finger on in this set until I can watch it, but she played well tonight.”