Otterville volleyball coach Scott Gemes knows the growing pains that Bunceton is going through in its fifth season.
Although the Lady Eagles are just in their seventh season, Gemes said he can see the improvement in the Lady Dragons’ program since their inception back on September 12, 2014.
“It takes time,” Gemes said. “Honestly, I was a little worried about tonight’s match against Bunceton because I knew they had gotten so much better since the first time we played them.”
Gemes was right. Despite winning in two straight sets 25-20 and 25-16 to improve to 4-0 on the season, the Lady Eagles got everything they wanted and more in a battle of two former CCAA conference opponents.
The loss dropped Bunceton to 1-5 overall.
Bunceton coach Doug Gilliam said you saw in the first set what the Lady Dragons can do.
“We got down a little bit but then we battled back and game of it,” Gilliam said. “We are seeing things that we’ve worked on in practice and those things are starting to come to fruition. The feet could be a lit bit better. A couple of things could be a lit bit better but there are signs of improvement. If we keep battling like this the wins are going to come.”
Gilliam said one instance came after Bunceton cut the lead to 12-11.
“One of our biggest weaknesses is essentially when we get into our own heads,” Gilliam said. “We psych ourselves out. It’s like if we have good things happen we assume that they are not going to keep being good and when bad things happen we assume they are always going to stay bad. I try to preach to them to be like a cornerback. You might give up that 15 yard completion but you have to forget it because you can always get them next time.”
In the first set, which featured five ties, the Lady Dragons led Otterville by as much as three points at 7-4 before a series of errors allowed the Eagles to rally back to tie the game at 8-all. Bunceton never got any closer in the set as  Otterville used its bigger front line to reel off five straight to go up 13-8. The Lady Dragons kept the game close by cutting the lead to four on five different occasions and even had the lead down to 23-20 after a hit to the middle by freshman Lane Heilman. However on the final two points in the set, the Lady Dragons had two costly errors to closeout the game.
The second set was also close early on as sophomore Bella Vaca reeled off four straight service points to cut Otterville leads to one at 12-11. The Lady Eagles came back and reeled off five straight to extend the lead to 17-11 and then outscored Bunceton 8-5 for the rest of the set to win in two straight.
Senior Cara Bishop led the Lady Dragons with four service points with one ace while Bella Vaca finished the match with four service points, Ashlyn Twenter two service points with one ace, Laney Heilman two service points with one ace, Madelyn Myers with one service point and Taylyn Heilman with one ace.
Otterville also won the JV match 25-15, 25-12.
Madison Brown had five service points with one ace for Bunceton. Emily Breece finished the match with two aces and one attack attempt while Alyssa Welch added two service points and Kylee Myers with one service point and one ace.
Gilliam said the JV team continues to battle. “They're getting better,” Gilliam said. “We have certain things we work on in practice and for the games we have certain things we are looking for and they are hitting their marks. Just one little thing here or there and we would have a few more wins than we have but things are coming together.”