Ford City loses battle of fledgling programs
Expectations have changed for Ford City's boys volleyball team.
The Sabers (2-4), unsure if they had the talent to win a match during the preseason, left their home gym Tuesday night tormented by their 3-2 loss to St. Joseph (2-4). Never mind moral victories, they said. A postseason berth was on their mind, and a win over the Section 2-AA foe would have secured them a spot in the playoffs.
"I would've been happy with this at the beginning of the year," junior Andrew Huska said. "But we just keep improving. We should've had that one."
Huska and junior setter Adam Weaver were the only two players with volleyball experience at the start of this season. Ford City coach Gregg Hedglin and his Sabers expected to struggle — at least until the newcomers developed basic passing and hitting skills.
But a 3-2 win over Summit Academy in the season opener changed Ford City's attitude, and a 3-1 win over St. Joseph on April 12 further emboldened the boys.
The Sabers entered last night's contest confident about their chances of winning and securing a share of fourth place in the section; the top four teams from each section make the playoffs. But St. Joseph put a damper on Ford City's mood by winning the first and second games, 25-22 and 25-21.
"The first two sets, we came out very flat," Hedglin said. "We were making unforced errors. Obviously in sets three and four, we were able to cut down on them. We didn't eliminate them, but we cut down on them."
The Sabers rallied with a 25-23 win in the third game and a 25-21 victory in the fourth.
Both teams showed signs of inexperience throughout the match — St. Joseph is a first-year program, and Ford City, in just its second year of existence, lost its entire starting lineup when Elderton re-opened. But in the final game, the Sabers had more critical errors, including three miscommunications between teammates, and fell, 18-16.
"After going down two games right off the bat at home, that's a heck of a comeback," said Joe Peluso, the team's only senior. "But we let that pressure get to us, and we kind of lost our communication skills.
"I think we have the potential to be in every match. We just got to eliminate the stupid mistakes like letting the ball drop right in front of us."
Ford City's rematch with Summit Academy, currently in last place in Section 2-AA, awaits on April 27.