TULARE – Heading into Tuesday night, the Tulare Western Mustangs had been riding high with six straight wins. But the Mustangs could not keep up their winning ways at home against Reedley, as the visiting Pirates won in three sets (25-23, 25-23, 25-18) over the Mustangs.
Along with snapping the Mustangs’ winning streak, Reedley’s win extended its own streak to three straight matches. The Pirates have a young team this season, so Reedley head coach Ken Tatamy has liked seeing his players overcome their mistakes to continue progressing as a team.
“We’re slowly getting there,” Tatamy said. “We were a little bit up and down. I have a lot of young kids on the team this year. I have a lot of sophomores and juniors that play some significant roles so that’s going to be expected still early in the season.”
While the Pirates swept the match, the Mustangs did not make it easy for them. The night started with the Pirates and the Mustangs fighting to a 4-4 tie early in the first. The Pirates took the lead, but the Mustangs kept it close.
With a 15-12 lead, the Pirates went on a run to stretch the lead to 22-15. The Mustangs responded with a run of their own to cut the deficit to 24-23. However, Olivia Nourian ended it with a kill for the 25-23 victory and the 1-0 lead in the match.
The second set told a similar story. After a 4-4 tie, the Pirates went on a run to take a 12-6 lead. But the Mustangs continued to fight and battled all the way back to knot things up at 20-20. When the Mustangs had strong runs against the Pirates, Tulare Western head coach Kaylee Taylor believes it came down to two things.
“Our defense was doing well and we were communicating,” Taylor said.
But the Mustangs could not keep it up as the Pirates ended the second on a 5-3 run for the 25-23 victory and the 2-0 lead in the match. While the Mustangs gave their best shot, Nourian believes the Pirates won because they kept their composure.
“We were just keeping the team positive,” Nourian said. “Our energy was really high. We were chanting the whole time, we just kept pushing and kept staying calm to help us push through.”
Looking to close out the night, the Pirates went on a 7-0 run to start the third set. Even after the Mustangs finally scored, momentum remained with the Pirates as they went on to push the lead to 23-11. After two competitive games to start the night, Nourian and her teammates wanted to take care of business.
“We just wanted to get a lead and stay ahead,” Nourian said. “We wanted to just be consistent with our serves. That was our main thing and I think we really did that.”
The Mustangs were not done yet as they went on a 7-0 run to cut Reedley’s lead to 23-18. But their luck ran out as Reedley scored two straight points to win it, 25-18, to close out the night in three sets.
While the loss snapped their winning streak, the Mustangs are still looking good with a 9-4 record early in the season. As they move forward, Taylor wants her team to focus on maintaining their energy even when things do not go their way.
“(I want us to learn to) keep our spirits up when we get down,” Taylor said. “We just need to continue to work hard.”
Reedley now moves forward with a 7-4 record and has found some momentum with a three-match winning streak. With this win over the Mustangs, Tatamy believes it has given the young Pirates a boost as they go forward.
“I think that we’ll get confidence in terms of the way we play and the speed and the aggression that we emphasize that we want to play at,” Tatamy said. “We’ll build from this and I think the positives are that everyone played and I think the unity in terms of the offense will get a lot better.”