After winning a set for the first time this season last week against Shakopee, Tuesday’s 3-0 loss to Rochester Century proved to be a letdown for Red Wing and head coach Heidi Ulwelling.
“It’s so hard when you see them play like they did at Shakopee, then come home and they underperformed,” Ulwelling said. “Yes, there’s a learning curve, but it’s time for the girls to bring a little more. They’re capable of playing better.
“We thought we would match up well with that Century team, but some of our key players didn’t have their best games tonight.”
The Panthers won the non-conference match 25-11, 25-16, 25-21.
Both teams opened Tuesday’s match with a back-and-forth first set before Century broke a 4-4 tie, scoring 12 of the next 13 points for a 16-5 edge. The Wingers could not cut the margin down to double digits for the rest of the opening set.
Red Wing kept things tighter in the second set, trailing 12-11 following a kill by Sydney Book. But Century pieced together another big run to go up 21-12 on the way to a 2-0 lead.
Things looked dire for Red Wing in the third set as Century went up 16-5. But after a hitting error and some solid rallies, the Wingers cut the Panthers’ lead down to 24-21 after a kill from Taylor Steger. Steger pulled out a solid all-around effort for Red Wing with seven kills, nine digs and 2 ½ blocks (1 solo).
“Steger was the highlight,” Ulwelling said. “That was a positive for us to see somebody step it up and have that kind of night.”
A kill by the Panthers’ Kelsie Laughlin ended any chances of a comeback, putting Century in the win column.
Book led Red Wing with nine kills, and setter McKenzie Cota tallied 19 set assists in the loss.
Still without a win, the Wingers resume Missota Conference play Thursday against Farmington.
“Hopefully we can regroup tomorrow,” Ulwelling said. “We talked a lot about pride in the locker room and coming in more mentally prepared. It didn’t feel like they were mentally prepared tonight; it was almost zombie-like.
“The girls will take it home, dissect it, come back tomorrow and come more prepared for Farmington.”