If a passerby would’ve wandered casually onto Bross Court this week, he or she would have found nothing casual about volleyball practice.
During six-on-six drills, if a player missed a blocking assignment, forgot to communicate or found herself out of position, she heard her name called out. That was the signal to run to the wall and back. Her team, meanwhile, made due with five.
It wasn’t meant as punishment. It was meant to add pressure and accountability.
Thursday night, on the same court, the Mustangs found themselves pressed to the edge of a third straight conference loss and yet managed to overcome an early deficit in set five to beat Hope International 3-2 by scores of 25-16, 19-25, 23-25, 25-19 and 15-11.
“(The point of the drill) was to create moments of pressure that tested how much they believed,” said coach Allan Vince.
Belief, actually, was Vince’s message to the Mustangs after last weekend’s flight to Northern California that resulted in losses to Menlo and William Jessup.
Master’s (7-9, 3-3 in GSAC), Vince said, had to build a belief that it would win, even on the road, even in uncomfortable situations.
Thursday was a good start.
Despite dropping sets two and three, Mustang setter Kayla Sims said her team never doubted it could end Hope’s five match winning streak.
“I think we had that confidence the whole time,” said Sims, who finished with 34 assists. “We really never felt shaken.”
During other matches, she added, that wasn’t the case. But on this night, Master’s kept the wheels on even when Hope took a 7-4 lead in set five’s race to 15.
With Hope up 8-7, McKenna Hafner served an ace. Then she served up another.
“That really hyped us up,” said opposite hitter Jane Cisar, who tallied 11 kills. “It gave us a lot more drive and determination to finish it out.”
When a Hope serve finally sailed long, the Mustangs did close it out, beating the Royals for the 12th straight time.
“I think this will propel us to Vanguard,” Sims said of Saturday’s match. “Vanguard is going to be a tough one, and it’s on the road. We really need to work on our away games.”
Here’s the box score.