Total team effort

Special to the JournalSeptember 27, 2013 

Emma Lock might not have felt comfortable shining the spotlight on her impressive performance Sept. 24, but her head coach wasn’t bashful about it.

After the Lee’s Summit outside hitter helped lead the Tigers to a 27-25, 20-25, 25-16 win over cross-town rival Lee’s Summit North – avenging a loss just a couple of weeks ago – head coach Roy Martin took a look at the stat sheet and was shocked by what he saw.

“Wow, she (Lock) had 18 kills,” Martin said. “That has to be a school record. That’s huge with only two errors.”

Meanwhile, Lock kept it simple when talking about her big game. Sure, it felt good, but she couldn’t do it alone.

“It feels good to get big points,” she said. “It helps when we play as a team and come together. It was a good game. We all played well. We still have stuff to work on.”

Martin wasn’t done talking up Lock, her performance and her potential, and eventually his praise took on a similar tone as the 5-foot-8 junior.

“This was by far her best game hitting-wise. She has to continue to keep that consistency. She’s a go-to hitter, and Megan (Iversen) is, too,” said Martin, mentioning the senior who finished with a not-too-shabby 13 kills. “They’re awesome. We feed off of her (Lock) and Megan quite a bit.

“And Hailey (Criswell) and Karsyn (Mercurio) did a great job working in the middle, which really helps the outsides.”

Indeed, while Lock and Iverson combined for 31 kills, it was a team effort that got the Tigers their first conference win of the season.

After each team won a game apiece, it was Lee’s Summit, despite losing game two, that took control in the third game. They jumped out to an 8-2 lead and never looked back.

The Tigers actually built a little momentum at the end of game two. After falling behind 22-13, they got as close as 23-20 before North put the game away, but that little run provided a spark.

“We couldn’t let that loss get to us,” Lock said. “We had some drive at the end of the second game and we were hopeful it would carry over to the third game.”

Even North head coach Rhea Moses could tell the momentum wasn’t all on the side of her team despite evening the match, and it showed in a mistake-riddled game three.

“We didn’t have all the momentum,” Moses said. “We can’t play without energy. We weren’t being aggressive. That’s not the way it works in volleyball.

“… Every time you lose you hope it’s a learning experience; how are we going to fix what’s broken and move forward. There’s no easy game in this conference. We have to be ready every time.”

While the final game had the Tigers in control from the start, the game that impressed Martin the most from his team was the opener.

After the game was tied at 6-all, the largest lead for either team was three points. In all, the game had 14 ties and six lead changes, but the youthful Tigers showed their coach something to pull out the win.

“Game one was good because in game three North made some errors and we capitalized. But game one was back and forth,” Martin said. “It was a great game on both sides. We stayed after it. We didn’t get down or second-guess ourselves.”

Both Martin and Lock talked about how this kind of win could be something that could help the entire team, and especially the younger girls, gain a little confidence moving forward.

It’s been a rough start to the season for the Tigers (4-12-2), but a little bit of confidence could go a long way.

“This was huge. It’s a good win. We needed that,” Martin said. “We’ve been working hard on several things. The girls have done a good job implementing that. It’s good for them to see that matters.

“I definitely think they realize, it’s hard work, and I hope they understand that’s what it takes. They know how they’re capable of playing.”

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