(Tribune photo/Scott Nuzum)
The Greyhounds (0-1 Jayhawk Conference-Eastern Division, 0-5 overall) fell to visiting Neosho County -- which picked up a few votes in the pre-season NJCAA Division II poll -- in three games, 25-20. 25-9, 25-15.
"Right now, it's just working on our mental game," rookie head coach Sonya Garcia said when asked what the 'Hounds need to do to get into the win column. "We need to find a way to be able to get out of (bad) situations. The talent's there but they just have to believe in themselves. This is a whole 'nother season and we've got good talent."
The potential of the Greyhound squad could be seen in game one. Against a team they had met in the Butler Tournament last weekend and couldn't score more than 13 points against, they fought to tie the game four times and event held a lead briefly.
After forcing a few Panther errors, Fort Scott held a 19-16 lead. But then the Panthers (1-0, 4-1) rolled off seven straight to take the lead.
Neosho County carried that momentum into the second game, building an 8-1 lead. In the third game, Fort Scott hung in there again, trailing by just one point a couple of times early on.
Sophomore Beth Brittian's kill brought FSCC within 10-8. But Neosho scored the next six. A pair of Brittian ace serves sparked the 'Hounds to a 4-1 run to get within 17-12 before the Panthers scored the next six to take control for good.
Lacking height -- only Brittian and classmate Ashley Watkins are taller than 5' 9" while Neosho County has eight such players including three six-footers -- the 'Hounds need to cover well on defense and serve strong. It appeared that FSCC is only just an inch here or there in their floor coverage from being the type of team they need to be.
"Right now, our defense is coming along and it's just the little things that we need to work on," Garcia said. "Making sure that we're in our spots. Little things like that and I think our defense will start taking off.
"As I've said before, I want us to be known for our serving and defense and those are the two areas we're working really hard on."
Nevada sophomore Kaitlin Holland led the 'Hounds with four kills while Brittian and Fort Scott High School graduate Ashley Cavin had two each. FSHS grad Crystal Colvin had two assists while Watkins had two blocks. Brittian also served five aces.
The Greyhounds will travel to McKendree College in Illinois for a weekend tournament. They will be home again on three consecutive days: Sept. 9 against Cottey College (Mo.), Sept. 10 versus Johnson County and Sept. 11 against Arkansas-Fort Smith. By the time they're back home, the 'Hounds will have played in that tournament and a pair of road duals and support from the community such as what was shown Wednesday night will be much appreciated.
"We really appreciate everybody coming out, the school community and the Fort Scott community," Garcia, who played for FSCC in 2001 and 2002, said. "We really appreciate all the support that we get. And it adds fuel to our fire. Having support is always appreciated."
NOTES -- Changes in the structure of the conference's divisions were made for volleyball to simplify schedule making and post-season tournament seeding.
All of Kansas' NJCAA Division I volleyball programs are in the Western Division. Those teams are Barton County, Colby, Dodge City, Garden City, Hutchinson, Pratt and Seward County.
Every Eastern Division school fields a Division II program. However, Butler and Cloud County, which are normally Western Division schools, also field Division II programs.
It was decided to place Butler and Cloud in the Eastern Division for volleyball. If they had stayed in the West, those schools would have had to play eight Western Division matches and 12 Division II matches (Hesston, an independent, also plays in Division II), only one of which would have been common (Butler vs. Cloud). This would have given each fewer chances to play non-conference schools.
That means FSCC's Sept. 17 match at Butler and Sept. 24 home match with Cloud County also count in Eastern Division play....