SEQUOYAH — Perhaps a lengthy break from action was just what the Inola High School volleyball team needed.
Playing their first match in nine days, the well-rested Class 4A No. 6 Lady Longhorns never trailed in knocking off Class 3A No. 13 Sequoyah 25-16, 25-12, 25-12 in a battle of Rogers County foes Thursday night at Sequoyah’s Olan Graham Fieldhouse.
“It felt good to come back,” Inola coach Tyler Swope said. “We played 27 games before the break, so I kind of scheduled that intentionally, but it feels really good to be back.”
Prior to Thursday night, the last match for Inola (17-11) came Aug. 31 in a road loss to Class 4A No. 3 Holland Hall. At the time, the setback was the fourth in the last five matches for the Lady Longhorns.
But a fresh Inola squad controlled net play and served well against the Lady Eagles (9-9) in a match that was tied only once early in the second set.
“That is the most energetic we have played,” Swope said following Thursday night’s three-set sweep.
“The week before the break we did not play with that kind of energy. I think it definitely did us good and obviously we will see the dividends as the rest of the season goes on.”
Leading 7-5 in the first set, sophomore Brooke Walker had a kill on a Lady Eagle serve then notched a pair of aces on her ensuing service rotation that increased Inola’s lead to 13-5.
From there, junior Sydney Biggs added three kills to help the Lady Longhorns build a 22-11 advantage before capturing the opening set 25-16.
In the second set, service rotations from juniors Lacey Moss and Madison Hawkins, coupled with solid play at the net from Walker, Biggs and senior Baylea Russell, vaulted the Lady Longhorns in front 15-4.
Despite four kills from Sequoyah’s Ady Johnson, one of seven freshmen on the team’s roster, Inola closed out the second set 25-12.
With Biggs serving to begin the third set, the Lady Longhorns scored six-unanswered points with two of those points coming from Biggs aces. Trailing 8-1, Johnson came up with kills at the net for the next three Lady Eagle points as Inola took an 11-4 lead.
But Inola tallied eight of the next 10 points for a 19-6 advantage. On match point, Biggs notched a kill at the net to wrap up a 25-12 set for the Lady Longhorns.
Besides Johnson, Sequoyah’s Shelby Hurt, the only senior on the squad, notched a pair of points at the net in the final set while freshman Brooke Bullis served one of her two aces in the match in the third set.
For Sequoyah, the Inola loss marked the second setback against a Class 4A ranked team this week. On Tuesday, the Lady Eagles dropped a home match against another fellow Rogers County opponent, No. 4 ranked Verdigris.
While ranked in Class 3A, Sequoyah coach TeAna Tramel noted the difficulty of her squad battling against a pair of top-five Class 4A squads.
“They are both great teams obviously being ranked four and six in 4A,” she said. “Learning-wise, as much as we can touch the ball against good opponents, that’s what we are going to do. We were able to have some great rallies. We had a couple of mental breakdowns, more than anything on the passing side of the ball. But overall I am very impressed with how our team is looking right now.”
Tramel spoke to the youthful look on this year’s Lady Eagle team.
“At any given time, we have three to four freshmen on the court,” she said. “Any time that you are young, freshmen are going to make mistakes just because of inexperience.
“Experience-wise, they haven’t been in games like this,” she added. “They are playing against kids who are three and four years older than they are. They are doing the best they can, they are getting experience, and I am proud of them.”
Inola continues play this weekend by traveling to compete in the Catoosa Invitational. Sequoyah has the first of four regular-season ending home matches on Tuesday when Wesleyan comes to Olan Graham Field House.