By KEVIN THOMPSON
HOLCOMB — At first glance, it looks like an easy win.
In their only home meet of the season, the Lady Longhorns defeated Ulysses 25-15, 25-14 in the first of three matches in the Holcomb quadrangular.
But it was a bit of a shaky start for the Longhorns before getting on track.
"We started off a bit slow, but I know part of that was the nerves," first-year head coach Jennifer Barrett said. "This is our only home match of the season and the girls hadn't played in their home court yet."
Ulysses opened with three straight service points from Kaylee Shilling and looked strong. But the more experienced Longhorns quickly regained their composure, got the service game going, and took care of business.
"They came out of (the slow start) and passed better," Barrett said. "Once we pass the ball, we can run our offense. Our passing is key to us."
Passing, yes, but the service game clicked, too. Ahead 15-14, Heidi Boyles served six straight points to break open the game for Holcomb.
Serving streaks dictated Game 2's action.
Holcomb opened with three straight points by Aleasha Krehbiel. Ulysses opened with five straight service points by Shilling.
Then Holcomb's Danielle Asmus served five in a row and Breanna Gottschalk six, too much for the Lady Tigers to overcome.
"We've been trying in practice to go on runs," Barrett said. "We're wanting to put runs together. I'm glad to see it pay off."
It helps, too, that Holcomb has nine seniors on the team, Barrett noted.
"We have a lot of seniors this year, so we have a lot of leadership and a lot of experience we're trying to pull from," she said.
For Ulysses coach Kim Jones, this match, though a loss, was about young players stepping up. With only one senior playing and two starters out with injuries, younger girls had to fill critical roles.
They had their moments but Holcomb's senior-laden team — eight of nine suited up this night — was just too much.
"We're plagued with injuries right now," Jones said. "We have to eliminate our mistakes and talk a little bit more."
One bright spot for Jones was freshman Morgan Kistler showing some maturity in her first varsity action.
"She's doing a really good job for us," Jones said. "She has a lot of potential. We're glad to have her today."
It would prove to be the lone victory for the Lady Longhorns, though, as they dropped a three set match to Dodge City (25-13, 19-25, 25-8) and then lost in straight sets to Goodland (25-14, 25-9). The Longhorns' season record is now 11-8.