Pike drops opener: Lady Patriots fight hard in loss to Northside

Published 12:00 pm Friday, August 11, 2017

The Pike Lady Patriots kicked off the 2017 volleyball season with a loss to perennial power Northside Methodist in straight sets on Thursday evening.

After a long summer of practice, new head coach Hayden Wilson was eager to see how her team of unexperienced players would begin their season. Even in a loss, Watson was happy with what she saw.

“The girls played excellently,” Watson said. “There are a couple of things that we weren’t ready for as far as the hitting. We are going to get some men in here to start hitting to them because that was the only thing that hurt us.”

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The Knights came into opening night with a history of success, making it a stiff challenge for the Patriots right out of the gate.

“It shows me that, if that is the toughest competition we are going to see all season, then I have high hopes,” Watson said.

The Patriots struggled out of the gate on Thursday night. In game one, the Patriots could not find their hitting and lost by 17 to fall behind one game to nothing.

“It was definitely first game jitters,” Watson said. “The weather, it was somebody’s birthday today; they need to work on getting their minds where they need to be, but overall we did great.”

The Patriots were more competitive in game two. Even though they never led, they stayed within one to two points through most of the match until the Knights managed to get some separation.

“They had excellent teamwork,” Watson said. “They worked the entire time. One good thing is we are in shape. It’s so hot, I saw numerous (Northside) players over there saying ‘I am about to die.’ We have great teamwork and we are in shape.”

The Patriots gained their first lead early in game three, but the heavy-hitting Knights were too much to handle in the end.

“We have to work on that, the heavy hitting,” Watson said. “We have to work on getting down and getting the ball. I am going to try and get some of these coaches in here and start working on some of that.”

The junior varsity squad also opened up the season on Thursday night. Like the varsity, even though they fell in straight sets, coach Watson liked what she saw out of her young players.

“They had excellent teamwork,” Watson said. “They just had a couple of mishaps in the first game. The officials weren’t there in the first game and everything was out of order, but I have high hopes for this team.”

With the first match out of the way, the Patriots now turn their sights on their next game against Crenshaw Christian next Tuesday in Luverne.

Watson wants to see her team get dirty.

“They play dirty in practice, but they are not playing dirty in the game,” Watson said. “If they are playing dirty against their own players in practice, why aren’t they doing it against the opposing team. I want to see that during the game. A couple of them look completely different in practice than they do in a game. I need everybody together.”