Erin Mack wasn’t sure what it was, but something was off to start Mustang’s season-opening match Tuesday night against Piedmont.
The Broncos played a little tight over the first four games. Coach Blake Newman saw it too but noted that his team loosened up when it needed to most.
“We were a little off early,” the third-year coach said. “We made some unforced errors we didn’t really make over the last two weeks and preseason. But I told them I was proud of the way they pulled it out in the end.
“They stepped it up when they had to.”
After dropping the fourth set to force a tiebreaker, the Broncos bounced back strong, rolling off a 15-7 win in the fifth to notch their first win of 2023.
“I was really nervous, I’m not going to lie,” said Mack, who is one of six seniors on the team. “It was my first home game as a senior and it felt like I had a lot of pressure on me. But I knew I had to pull it out for my team and pick it up no matter what I felt in my head.”
Mack finished the match with 12 kills and four blocks, including multiple big plays in the tiebreaking set. She said the team was able to bounce back all around at the end.
“Defense and serves,” she said. “A lot of aces and swings. Our setters really pulled through tonight and got it done.”
The Broncos dropped the first set 25-21 but bounced back with a pair of wins at 25-16 and 25-22, taking a 2-1 lead in the match. They nearly clinched the win in the fourth set, but the Wildcats squeaked out a 27-25 win to force a fifth.
Newman was especially pleased with how his team turned things up a notch against a familiar opponent. The two squads squared off twice in the preseason.
“Piedmont is one of those teams that has good height and they’re a scrappy group,” he said. “I was a little worried with how we’d play against someone we’ve already seen, but once we loosened up, we were able to do some of the things that we’ve excelled at so far like blocking and serving and playing amazing defense.”
Senior Tatum Spencer led the team with 13 kills. Fellow senior London Cooper also had a strong performance with eight digs and seven kills. Junior Gracelyn Higgins led the way defensively with 28 digs while Emrie Brown (Jr.) finished with six blocks.
One of the team’s goals every year is to win each home match. They’re off to a fine start.
“If you don’t win the first home game, you can’t win all of the home games,” Newman said. “That’s a big deal for us.”
The Broncos continue their season at the Sand Springs tournament this weekend before returning home to host Norman North on Tuesday at the Mustang Event Center.