Mustangs survive thriller against Trailblazers
Tulare Western Mustangs defeat the Golden West Trailblazers in five sets (25-19, 21-25, 25-19, 23-25, 15-9) on the road; the win extends their winning streak to six straight matches
VISALIA – In a match that went the distance, neither the Tulare Western Mustangs or the Golden West Trailblazers wanted to lose on Wednesday night at Golden West High School Gymnasium. The volleyball teams went back and forth throughout the night, resulting in a fifth set to decide the winner.
With the night on the line, the Mustangs took control in the fifth to close it out to win the match. Tulare Western head coach Kaylee Taylor knew the Trailblazers would give her team a strong fight, and she was not disappointed.
“We came in expecting a good game and that’s what we got,” Taylor said. “It was a well-fought game, back and forth the whole time.”
With their win, the Mustangs improved their record to 9-3 this season. They also extended their winning streak to six straight matches, which Tulare Western’s Avery Starr credits to their bond as a team.
“We have team chemistry. We’re making sure that we all have each other’s back,” Starr said. “Volleyball is all about trust and we just need to make sure that we trust each other to keep winning.”
In the first set of the night, the Mustangs started strong taking a 10-4 lead. The Trailblazers were unable to wrestle away momentum as the Mustangs went on to win it, 25-19, to take a 1-0 lead on the night.
“The team was communicating well and they were reading the hitters well,” Taylor said about their early success. “They were just flowing really well tonight.”
In the next game, the Trailblazers played much more competitively as they fought the Mustangs to a 15-15 stalemate. The Trailblazers took the lead but it was short lived as the Mustangs tied it, 20-20. Looking to avoid a 2-0 hole, the Trailblazers went on a 5-1 run to win it, 25-21, to tie the match.
The third set saw a more competitive volleyball game between the two teams. After the teams fought their way to a 12-12 stalemate, the Mustangs took back momentum and rode it to the finish line to win the third, 25-19, for a 2-1 lead on the night.
Looking to close out the night, the Mustangs raced out to an 18-8 lead to start the fourth. Even after the Trailblazers scored some points, the Mustangs were in great position to win it as they held a 21-14 lead.
Despite dwindling hopes, the Trailblazers wrangled away momentum with a 9-2 run to tie things up at 23-23. The Trailblazers then followed up with another two points to win the fourth, 25-23, and forced a fifth game. While it would have been easy to let the night slip away, Golden West head coach Kayla Swift was happy to see her players continue to fight.
“These girls definitely have heart, and they have a fire and drive in them that I’m so proud of,” Swift said. “There was just an attitude and a desire to win, and the heart that they weren’t going to take the loss.”
But the Trailblazers could not carry their momentum into the fifth. After a 3-3 tie, the Mustangs scored five straight points for an 8-3 lead. The Trailblazers attempted another comeback, but the Mustangs ended the night strong to win it, 15-9. It would have been easy for the Mustangs to let the match slip away after losing the fourth, but Starr and her teammates were not having it.
“We just needed to focus on that even if we made mistakes, we still had to come back and just fight hard,” Starr said.
The loss dropped Golden West to 1-7 on the season and was the team’s third straight loss. While she believes her team could have played better offensively against the Mustangs, Swift believes they showed a lot of heart and that is something that they can learn from the tough loss.
“It doesn’t matter that we went down by ten points at one time, we can come back and still take a set,” Swift said. “You can’t say we didn’t have heart out there or that we didn’t give it our all.”
As the Mustangs move forward, they will be looking to stay hot and further extend their winning streak. The Mustangs were more than happy to get the tough win against the Trailblazers, but Taylor knows that it demonstrated they still have plenty to work on as they move forward.
“We’re just going to get in the gym and we’re going to break down the things that we did wrong,” Taylor said. “We’re going to really focus on that to help us come in and win next week.”