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Pandas taught hard lesson in tough week

Posted on November 6, 2013 by Westwind Weekly

The previously undefeated Magrath Pandas volleyball team dropped its first two matches of the season last week, against two very strong opponents, but the girls were taught a valuable lesson along the way.

Up two sets to nothing against Catholic Central High School Oct. 23, the Pandas watched seemingly helplessly as the Cougars stormed all the way back to win in five sets. The lesson? You can’t let up against a good opponent.

“We were up in the third set 24-22 and couldn’t finish,” said head coach Tara Anderson. “After that we just kind of (lost it). To quote my husband from the stands, ‘(we) managed to clutch defeat out of the jaws of victory.’ And that’s exactly what we did.”

Once the snowball started rolling, it was all down hill from there. With a set now in hand, Catholic Central took control of the match and never looked back.

“We’ve been struggling in the third set all season long and once again, we just couldn’t pull it out,” Anderson said. “We had a little team meeting about it (Tuesday) and we’re trying to figure out what is exactly happening and what we can do to change it. “Hopefully as we go forward it will be better.”

The hard part of course is there really is no right answer to fixing the problem. There’s no switch to turn on or off and no secret weapon left in the locker room to start that third set. Anderson says it’s simply a problem the team will have to figure out on its own; a mental obstacle the girls will have to sidestep.

“I’m at a little bit of a loss,” said Anderson of the possible solution. “But it’s been a tough season for us. We’re really short on numbers and we’ve had some injuries. This week we had girls learning new positions they hadn’t played before … I’m not sure if that’s it but maybe there was an issue with comfort – it’s a mental game and if little doubts start entering your mind, maybe you’re not able to recover from an (adverse situation).”

The Pandas weren’t able to redeem themselves the following night against Chinook, which won in three sets, but a lot of that match can be chalked up to playing a provincial 4A favourite and doing it on less than 24 hours rest.

“We actually played a little better,” Anderson said. “We did some good things in that match.”

Magrath wrapped up the regular season Wednesday at home against Kate Andrews, though no scores were known at press time.

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