The Lady Unicorns’ first and last matches Thursday at Fraulein Volleyfest had an eerily similar feel.
New Braunfels (6-7 overall) motored to convincing wins in its opening sets against both Leander and Clear Creek but saw the tables turned in the next two games. Leander emerged with an 11-25, 25-19, 25-17 victory, while Clear Creek battled back to record a 14-25, 25-17, 25-19 triumph.
The Lady Unicorns easily won their middle match against Incarnate Word (25-13, 25-6), but the two setbacks dropped New Braunfels to third place in Pool 7.
“I think right now we need to learn how to come together and play consistent,” head coach Heather Sledge said. “We’re getting really high or really low and not finding that middle ground.”
Coming off a lopsided win against Incarnate Word, the Lady Unicorns looked poised to collect their second straight win in Thursday’s finale against Clear Creek. Madison Glassco, Rian Millership, Keriann Kallus and Ella Brunson spearheaded an early surge that saw New Braunfels build a 16-7 edge in the first set.
Millership later slammed the door shut with a pair of aces to seal a 25-14 triumph.
However, the Lady Unicorns suffered through a bit of a power outage in game two, as Clear Creek began to find a rhythm and also started to disrupt New Braunfels’ timing. The Lady Unicorns trailed 21-11 before rallying to within five points thanks to solid hits from Cypress Guenther, Kallus and Chloe Ullrich, but the comeback bid ultimately fizzled.
New Braunfels and Clear Creek then battled to a 13-all tie in the opening stages of the third set until the visitors pulled away for a 19-14 advantage. Guenther, Kallus and Morgan Baese attempted to fuel another surge, but Clear Creek once again avoided a late collapse.
“We’re having good starts with lots of energy and then the other team fights back and we’re kind of getting caught on our heels,” Sledge said. “Basically, we need to learn how to play under pressure right now. Leander and Clear Creek were both excellent teams and unfortunately they had more fight than we did today.”
Glassco finished with 10 kills against Clear Creek, while Kallus added seven kills and the duo of Lena Baumann and Brunson tallied 14 and 13 assists, respectively. Edie Welch supplied nine digs and the tandem of Harleigh Mericle and Brunson both provided eight digs.
Against Incarnate Word, Glassco posted seven kills and Baumann dished out 11 assists. Brunson notched nine assists and six digs, while Welch added six digs of her own.
Glassco also had seven kills in the loss to Leander, with Kallus and Guenther each delivering five kills. Welch racked up a team-high 22 digs, and Brunson and Baumann tallied 13 and 11 assists, respectively. Glassco registered one block in the defeat.
Sledge now wants to see her team bounce back today as pool play continues at Fraulein Volleyfest. New Braunfels is set to play respective contests at 10 a.m., 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. today against San Antonio Warren, Cedar Park Vista Ridge and Austin Bowie at NBHS.
“We still have potentially six games to play and a lot of things that we can build and improve on,” Sledge said.