SUTHERLAND — The Sailors volleyball team had a heart-to-heart talk at the end of the Elm Creek tournament earlier this month in which they had stretched a losing skid to five matches.
“We had a rough week that week,” first-year Sutherland coach Denee’ Elfeldt said. “But (the players) kind of came together and reassessed their season goals and came up with some new goals and what they had to do to meet those. They were just frustrated and weren’t playing as a team. The kind came together in the locker room after the last game (in the tournament).”
It’s been a different story since.
Sutherland has lost just once over their past eight matches to move its record to three games over .500 for the season. That hot stretch continued on Thursday night as the Sailors beat Cozad and Maxwell in straight sets in a home triangular.
“We had some problems with girls being sick and not being able to practice (early in the season),” Elfeldt said. “Our rotation was kind of messed up but we came together as a team and everybody figured out their roles and that they just needed to be ready for whatever was thrown at us. (The players) are just doing a really good job with that now and putting everything together.
The Sailors will try and keep the momentum going this weekend as they host an eight-team tournament on Saturday. The field also includes Southwest, Overton, Hitchcock County and Chase County.
“It’s going to be a tough tournament,” Elfeldt said.
Sutherland looked formidable on Thursday as well. The Sailors beat Cozad 25-14, 25-13 in the first matchup of the triangular and then downed Maxwell 25-19, 25-15 in the final one.
Maxwell edged Cozad in three sets in the other matchup 25-19, 19-25, 25-21. The Wildcats trailed by seven points in the third set before they rallied and then scored the final four points to close out the match.
Maxwell then jumped out to a 15-11 lead in the first set against Sutherland before the Sailors answered with a dozen straight points to take control.
“I think we served really well tonight,” Elfeldt said. “Our serve really kept us in it, got us momentum and got us ahead. (Serving) is definitely one of our strenghths.”
Allee Hiatt went 12-for-12 in her service attempts with three aces against Maxwell, and Mataya Roberts served five straight points in the second set against the Wildcats.
“We have some tough servers,” Elfeldt said. “We have some girls who can spot-serve and that helps us keep (opponents) off-balance. They have to be on their toes because they never know where we are going to go with our serve.
“Opponents can’t sit back on their heels and wait for a long ball,” Elfeldt said. “Next time, we could throw a short (serve) at them. We can pretty much put (a serve) anywhere on the court.”