Odessa College head coach Kristi Gray saw a huge difference between the Wranglers two matches Saturday.
The Odessa College volleyball team capped off its home tournament by splitting a pair of games. Early in the day, the Wranglers fell to Blinn College 21-25, 25-21, 25-22, 25-22 but rebounded for an afternoon victory over Barton Community College 13-25, 25-21, 25-23, 25-20 at the Odessa College Sports Center.
"Both of those teams are really good, especially Blinn," Odessa College middle blocker Bojana Bolozan said. "But we definitely could have done a better job playing against them. We just need to find the connections between each other."
Those pair of Wranglers four-set contests matches the results of Friday's action when they split a pair of matches against Seward County Community College and Eastfield College.
"It's very important for us to jump on the other team quick," Gray said. "We're not good at starting down and we've been decent at coming back when we've been down but then we tend to make errors and let the other team come back in, so it's very key that we jump on the other team from the start."
In the Wranglers first match of the day against Blinn, the Buccaneers dropped the first set but never looked back after that taking the next three to win the match.
Odessa College only had a few hours to dwell on that loss as it played its final match of the weekend against Barton Community College.
The hangover from the Wranglers' early game started to show in the first set against the Cougars who easily jumped out to a one-set lead by using a large net presence to block away several of Odessa College's attempts at kills.
Gray switched liberos from Aleksandra Stasiak to Ariana Velasquez to begin the second set in hopes of jump starting her team. It worked — as the Wranglers prevailed to tie the match at one set a piece after battling back and forth with the Cougars.
"There was a huge difference in both games," Gray said. "In our first game we made a lot of errors and (against Barton) we started making a lot of errors but we turned it around and started playing more as a team."
In the third set, Odessa College jumped out to an early lead and maintained it throughout to take its first lead of the match.
The beginning of the fourth set went even better for the Wranglers who led at one point 16-5 and looked certain to close out the final match of its home tournament on a high note.
Slowly but surely however, the Cougars fought back and pulled within three points at 22-19 to force Gray to call a timeout.
Odessa College finished off the match right out of that break to conclude its home tournament with two wins and two losses.
"We didn't play like we used to play," Bolozan said. "The season just started, so we still have time to make it right."
The quartet of home tournament matches served as the first home games that the Wranglers had played this season.
It won't have to wait long for another one, as Odessa College welcomes Western Texas College for its first home WJCAC game.
The Wranglers are currently 1-0 in conference action as they defeated Frank Phillips College on Wednesday.
"I keep preaching to them energy and communication and I ask them 'what if this was your last game to play, how would you play' and I think we showed a lot more passion (against Barton) and that definitely was the difference" Gray said. "We have a lot of work to do.
"We have a lot of freshman and we're still trying to figure things out. But it starts with our energy on the court. If we start out flat, we don't do well; if we have energy, we play very well together."
Article/photo by Eric Blum OA