By Michael Kinney
NORMAN – Rachel Allred knew it was going to be tough. Facing some of the best volleyball teams in the area, the Yukon coach just wanted to see how her team would perform.
After two days of competition at the Norman High Volleyball Tournament, Allred was justifiably happy with what she saw from her squad.
The Millers placed fourth in the Gold bracket as they amassed a 3-2 record.
“It was definitely a foundation and to be encouraged by,” Allred said. “Even though we’re finishing fourth, we haven’t been in the gold bracket in the last three years, so I’d take finishing fourth in the gold over finishing seventh or eighth in the silver any day. But they have to see that and use that as confidence of what they’re capable of. Once we get the routine going and get the consistency going and that finishing strength going, big things can happen.”
In Yukon’s final match of the tourney, they took on host Norman High for third place Saturday. Even though they fought hard, they were unable to knock off the Tigers. They fell 25-17, 20-25, 16-25 and 16-25.
Yet, Allred saw positives coming out of the match.
“We just struggled with that consistency in finishing. But again, some great matches with some great teams,” Allred said. “We haven’t gone four matches with Norman in a long time, and we haven’t gone four matches with Deer Creek in seven years. So the fact that we usually get sweeped by those teams and now we’re hanging close and we’re going four and five games with them, that’s encouraging to the girls. And only two weeks of practice under our belt, it’s just going to keep getting stronger and keep getting better. It’s encouraging, but we also have things that we need to work on.”
One of the best and entertaining matches of the tournament involved rivals Yukon and Mustang. The Broncos were down in the Silver bracket, but they faced off with the Millers late Friday night.
The sets went back and forth, with neither team giving in. But it was YHS who outlasted MHS in five sets.
“They kept the attitude up, they kept the energy up,” Allred said. “I think it’s easy, sometimes, when you’re tired, it’s the end of the day, you’ve gone four matches, they’ve beat you twice, you beat them, you start feeling that fatigue, you start feeling that frustration, and they were able to get back together and pump it up, and take care of business, and get it done.”
After a long first day, both teams were drained by the time they took the court. But the prospect of losing to their rival was enough to pull them through in the end.
“It is always a whole other ballgame when it’s a rivalry game, and so we know no matter what each other are ranked, no matter how far in the season it is, the Mustang game is always gonna be up in the air to,” Allred said. “You know, it’s just more passionate, it’s more intense, it’s more aggressive, so yeah, it always makes for an interesting game.”
The Millers host Edmond Memorial Thursday. Varsity plays at 6 p.m.
Yukon doesn’t play again until it heads to the Carl Albert Tourney Aug. 25-27.
“We’re stronger as a team that honestly, more than any other year I’ve been head coach,” Allred said. “I think we’re starting out just at a higher level. I think that comes from the team has just unified a lot quicker. Usually it builds up over the season and we just started out strong from the start. The girls get along. The girls are sold out for their goal. I think just talent. The program’s just been building and building the last seven years, and our talent just keeps getting better and better. So, all those things coming together and the girls see that, they see their potential. They see the goal. They see the things that we have in place that can get us there and they’re excited about it. And they’re willing to work hard for it.”