Tempe – It was a rough night for the Buena Colts on Monday to open up the 2022 volleyball season. Buena fell to the McClintock Chargers 3-0 on the road in Tempe, opening up the year with an unfortunate loss. Coach Jenn Comolli said it’s been a journey for the team just to get to the start of the season, with a number of issues continuing to plague the program.
“We’ve had a really rough start,” Comolli said. “We had a gym situation where our gym flooded. We’ve had all sorts of issues coming into the beginning of the season, so we’re hoping it’s smooth sailing from here. We’re just trying to stay positive with all of that and hopefully get some momentum going.”
While things didn’t go the way Buena had anticipated, there’s a lot the squad can take away from this game to learn from.
After starting the first set trailing 6-2, the Colts were stuck trying to play catch-up. Each time the Colts would start to get close, the Chargers would bolt away to another big lead. Eventually, McClintock stretched the lead to 22-13, forcing Buena to call a timeout.
Coming back out, McClintock would tack on another point off an ace, but Buena was still pushing forward. Going on a run to make it 23-19, Buena then forced McClintock to use their first timeout of the match. Buena was able to continue pushing McClintock, staying alive despite McClintock’s 24-23 lead.
However, McClintock was able to get the point easily to win the set, taking a 1-0 lead over Buena.
The second set was the real killer for Buena, as they came out flat and never were able to generate any offense. After McClintock jumped out to an 8-0 lead, Comolli called a timeout, but McClintock’s energy couldn’t be stopped. The Chargers continued on to a 13-1 lead, where Buena then called another timeout to try to regroup.
Unfortunately, the momentum was overwhelmingly powerful for McClintock at this point, leaving Buena limping to a 25-3 ending to set two.
Even with a rough second set, Buena’s attitude remained positive as they knew they needed to rally big if they wanted to win. While it would be easy to go out there and be disappointed or get angry about the way the game was going, the girls kept a positive demeanor on the court and kept pushing forward to the best of their abilities.
Comolli said before going back out to start the third set, the girls did some shadow work to mentally prepare.
“Our assistant coach Todd Bradbury had them all close their eyes in our timeout and had them visualizing what the serve receive should look like,” Comolli said. “You’re in position, your platform is correct, you’re giving that perfect pass we want inside the ten foot line, and I feel like that made a difference.”
Set three started with Buena taking a 1-0 lead, but McClintock was quick to answer back and tie things up. The back and forth game continued until things were tied up at eight, where a net serve gave McClintock an 9-8 lead. From there, McClintock continued charging forward to a 13-8 lead, causing Buena to call another timeout.
Buena attempted another rally like they had in set one, but unfortunately fell short with McClintock picking up a 25-19 win in set three.
It may not have been a pretty game by any means for the Colts, but the first one of the year is now out of the way. With a lot of room for improvement, Coach Comolli is ready to get back in the gym and keep working with the team, as they now have a bit more of a basis on where they need work.
“Serving and serve-receive,” Comolli said. “We’ve been talking about momentum and how we get the side out and then we miss our serve and it kills our momentum. I know the girls are aware that this is one of our goals, so going forward we want to make all of our serves, obviously, but if we’re missing we want it to be an aggressive miss and not one that’s just in the net.”
Buena’s next game will take place on Wednesday, Aug. 31 at Pueblo High School before preparing for tournament play over the weekend.
Brittany Bowyer is a freelance journalist who started her career as an intern for a small sports website back in 2015. Since then, she’s obtained her master’s degree in Sports Journalism from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at ASU and is in her fourth year of covering various levels of sports across a broad range of platforms in Arizona. You can follow her on twitter @LittWithBritt