ARGYLE — Going into Tuesday night’s round robin against Red Oak and Denton, Argyle head coach Clark Oberle wanted his Lady Eagles to build on their momentum from a runner-up finish in the Gold Division of last weekend’s Ryan tournament.
It didn’t look very promising at first, as the Lady Eagles were swept by Red Oak 25-12, 25-16, 26-24. But they rebounded against Denton with a sweep of their own, 25-18, 25-13, 25-9, to finish the night on a positive note.
“We played about as poorly as we could in the first match,” said Oberle, whose team is 6-3 on the season. “Our passing was as poor as it’s been all season. We couldn’t get anything offensively going. We had played well at the Ryan tournament and I expected more from us. I was surprised by the way we started against Red Oak.
“But the big thing was to come back in the second match and play our style of volleyball. We passed better. Our level of intensity picked up and we were much more consistent. I was happy to see that happen.”
The round robin Tuesday belonged to Red Oak. The Lady Hawks improved to 7-4 with the win over Argyle and then a sweep over Denton, 25-14, 25-15, 25-21.
The Lady Hawks are the defending District 15-4A champions and advanced to the regional semifinals last season.
Denton, which won the consolation game in the Bronze Division of the Ryan tournament last weekend, dropped to 4-4 after being swept by Red Oak and Argyle.
Oberle’s Lady Eagles simply could not stifle any of the Red Oak runs in the first match. Behind the impressive net play of Kennedi Coleman, the Lady Hawks used a 16-8 run to close out the first set. They trailed 13-12 in the second set before scoring 12 straight points, 11 of those points with Averi Walker serving.
The third set was much closer, as Red Oak used more of its bench players. The score was tied at 22, then at 24, before Argyle returned wide and Alyse Bailey found an opening for the final two points for Red Oak.
Argyle sat while Red Oak downed Denton, and the Lady Eagles regrouped behind the play of senior setter Blair O’Brien, who finished with 23 assists, six digs and two aces.
“She’s been so consistent for us,” Oberle said of his four-year starter. “She’s done a really good job of getting everyone involved. She’s got great instincts.”
The Lady Eagles led the first set 16-14 when they put together a 9-1 run to pull away from the Lady Broncos. They jumped to a 13-5 lead in the second set en route to that victory, then scored the first nine points of the third set and outscored Denton 12-2 to close the match.
Sierra James finished with seven kills, 2 1/2 blocks and two aces, Katy Kennan had six kills and two aces, and Alyssa Bruton had five kills for Argyle.
Argyle returned seven lettermen this season, five of them with starting experience, from a team that won District 9-3A and lost to eventual state champion Lovejoy in the regional quarterfinals.
“I was felling pretty opportunistic about this season with the returning starters and the newcomers, plus looking at the rest of the region,” Oberle said. “We always want to get better in our serve-receive, and I’d like to see us serve more aggressively. All these matches are for us to learn that we have to get off to a better start.”
Denton struggled in both matches in nearly all aspects of its game. The Lady Broncos committed unforced errors, could not get a consistent passing game, and could not build any momentum against either opponent.
“We had a very slow practice [Monday],” Denton head coach Danielle Silva said. “We played like we practiced — slow. We didn’t react very well. We have to think about how we prepare for a game.”