WATERLOO — Old habits are hard to break, and right now the Waterloo East volleyball team is fighting to break a bad habit.
The last two seasons have not been kind to the Trojans on the court as they combined for a 9-56 record.
Second-year coach Corey Kennis has something building for the Trojans as they have already reached the 10-win mark this year.
Unfortunately, the Trojans (10-17) could not upgrade their mark Tuesday night as they dropped a 21-25, 25-17, 25-23, 25-17 Mississippi Valley Conference heart breaker to Cedar Rapids Prairie.
“It’s beginning to be deja-vu again here as we keep finding ways not to win,” Kennis said. “It has been the ongoing theme all season as we just can not get used to winning. These girls have the grit, endurance and fight to make it happen they just have to put three, just three strong matches together. They have to take that next step of mental toughness and know what it means to be a Trojan.”
The Trojans played a rough-tough first set as they rallied from a six-point deficit and on the strength of a pair of Sydney Magnuson kills, the Trojans pulled off a 25-21 first set victory.
“Every day the coaches push us to be better and this team is responding,” said Magnuson. “Between them and the younger girls that are coming in, we can not just sit back thinking we have a spot on the team. We have to play hard to keep it. I think that has really helped this team become so much better than the past. We have good chemistry on and off the court and we are like family. It has been fun to watch how much better we have gotten.”
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The Trojans came out a little flat in the second set and put themselves in a 9-1 hole and ended up losing 25-17.
Instead of letting the match fade away, the Trojans offense lit up and eventually tied the third set (16-16) on a Kenidi Adams ace serve. The Hawks (11-16) scrambled through the rally and built their lead back to 21-16, but the Trojans kept coming back. McKenzie Heinz and Alonzia Quinn put up a big block at the net to stop the run and cut the deficit to 21-17. Carley Spooner delivered a nice soft point, then Quinn used a slapshot to freeze the Hawks defense, and suddenly it was a 22-21 game that still favored the Hawks.
Back-to-back mishits by the Hawks, however, tied the contest at 23-23, but the Trojans could not seal the deal as they dropped the all-important third set 25-23.
“That is what I like about this team,” said senior libero Jenna O’Donnell. “We work so hard together and even if we give up a score we just figure it is next point up and we keep going. This team has what it takes to win we just have to step up and play hard throughout the whole game. The school is behind us a lot and it shows with the people that come to the games. We are ready to prove people wrong about this team.”
The Trojans fell behind early once again in the fourth set trailing 7-0, then mounted a comeback. After closing the gap to three points, the Hawks went on a four-point run that seemed to take the wind from the Trojans’ wings as they fell behind by seven once again 15-8. It was a deficit the Trojans could not overcome as they dropped the final set, and left the fans and players anxious for more.
“We are making the progress but that is not good enough for me,” added Kennis. “I want these girls to win and make it to state. That is my job to get them prepared for that. We are getting there but I won’t be happy until we are there. We have a great young group of girls coming in that really fight the upper class during practice. They make it a six-on-six war during practice and we are better because of that.”