Britny Seird (10) and Lashon Chew (23) attempt a block against Putnam City North on Monday. Chew sparked the Wolverines to a third-set win, 25-19, with three blocking scores and the winning kill.
Quick starts and slow finishes became an unrelenting cycle for Lawton High volleyball on Monday night.
The Wolverines scored at least the first two points of every set, but they were unable to hold their momentum, falling to Putnam City North in four sets -- 17-25, 15-25, 25-19, 10-25 -- at Wolverine Gym.
LHS coach Kylee Montgomery said constant little mistakes led to her team's downfall.
"The girls just weren't able to bounce back from the mistakes they were making," Montgomery said. "The third set we were able to overcome them, but it was the little things that got to my girls' heads. They weren't able to take care of the court like they needed to.
"It's honestly like we gave them free points. Tipping balls out, pushing balls out -- little things that shouldn't have happened -- didn't give us a chance to actually fight for those points."
The Wolverines (7-3) grabbed a quick 2-0 lead in the first set, but a combination of errors and a seemingly unstoppable serving spree from the Panthers' Airyanna Bly proved to be too much for LHS to handle.
Bly led PC North on a 13-1 run, tallying four aces and a kill to put the Wolverines in a 13-3 hole. U'I Aipa ended the spurt, giving LHS three of the next five points with a block, a kill and an ace, but it wasn't enough, for the Panthers went on to win the set, 25-17.
The second set began much like the first, but the Wolverines were more resilient in giving up their lead this time around.
The teams were tied at 12 after runs from both sides, but a Lawton error -- followed by a kill from Bly -- gave PC North the advantage it needed to finish the Wolverines and take a commanding 2-0 match lead.
The Panthers rallied 13 of the next 16 points, giving them a 25-15 win. PC North's blocking machine Josephine Nwankwo gave LHS problems throughout the set, scoring with five blocks.
"She was able to get up on the blocks," Montgomery said. "We needed to read her, make sure we were hitting around her and tipping over her. Unfortunately, whenever we did hit it, we didn't hit around her block, and she blocked us quite a bit. We just didn't have the coverage, and ultimately, I feel like we beat ourselves in those situations."
The Wolverines were able to turn things around in the third set, however, thanks in large part to Lashon Chew.
LHS stormed to a 3-0 lead, and after PC North took the next four points to take the lead, Chew showed her leadership ability, cheering on her teammates even when things looked dire. The senior's efforts were not in vain, for she directed the Wolverines on a furious rally that saw LHS go on runs of four, three, six and two points on the way to a 25-19 set win.
"She's just really aggressive on the court and on the net," Montgomery said. "She talked really loud on her passing, and she just honestly had an amazing game today. I couldn't have asked for anything more of her -- she did great."
Chew finished the frame with three scoring blocks and the winning kill.
Daysha Gordon made a big contribution as well, tallying four kills.
Chew said she was happy to play a pivotal role in avoiding a sweep, but she had nothing but praise for her teammates and the way they responded to adversity.
"Without a good pass or without a good set, I can't do anything," Chew said. "All I can do is be positive and cheer them on and help them build up. I feel like if I give that positive energy, then they'll have that same effect toward me, and we can put it down at the net."
That energy and morale displayed didn't carry into in the fourth set, though.
Almost as if routine, LHS once again took a 2-0 lead, only to lose the advantage shortly after. This time, however, the combined efforts of Bly, Nwankwo, Blake Killam and Faith DeSouza were simply too much to overcome. The quartet scored 11 of the Panthers' points, including four aces from Bly and DeSouza, on the way to a 25-10 win.
Chew, who came away with two kills and a scoring block in the fourth, said her team's ignorance of its own strengths led to the 3-1 letdown.
"We just fell apart because we got down on ourselves because we're not aware of our potential, but we have a lot of it." Chew said. "If we learn how to build together as a team and keep going point after point, and even if we lose, we have to celebrate small victories. That's a major part of it, and once we celebrate those, we get our momentum up, and that helps us go to the next point."
The Wolverines return to action action at 6 p.m. on Thursday at Bishop McGuinness in Oklahoma City.