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Miller netters fall to Mustang in rivalry game

Yukon’s Katie Clark goes for a block against Mustang in a rivalry match Thursday. Photo / Terry Groover

MUSTANG — After coming out flat for the first set of a rivalry match Thursday, the Yukon Millers gave one of the top volleyball teams in 6A all it could handle.
The Millers ended up losing 1-3 to their rivals, the Mustang Lady Broncos. But it was a hard-fought loss.
In the first set, it looked like Mustang, ranked fourth in Class 6A, were going to blow out the Millers, easily grabbing a 25-12 win.
However, Yukon seemed to wake up in the second set, scoring a 25-21 win, and in the third set lost by the same score.
That set up the a fourth set in which the two teams volleyed the lead numerous times before Mustang finally was able to put away the Millers 25-18.
Despite the loss, Yukon coach Rachel Allred said she wasn’t disappointed in how her team played.
However, she said the team may have been too confident after having won the second set, thinking they had extra time to pull out the win.
“We won the second one and felt more confident and felt good. The third one we lost, but we still felt confident because there is the thought that we have another chance.
“A loss is a loss. We shouldn’t have felt as comfortable as we did in the third set going into the fourth. We don’t always have that extra set to go to, as we learned in the fourth (set),” she said.
Allred said the team appeared to be playing to survive, when they should have been playing to win.
“We’ve got to get out of the habit of playing to survive instead of playing to win,” she said.
In the first set, the Millers struggled a bit with the serve, missing several. However, that improved as the game progressed.
Allred said the team is facing three top 10 teams in the final two weeks of the regular season. Upcoming are No. 7 Deer Creek on Tuesday and top-ranked Edmond North next Thursday.
“That can either break us or make us better. So, we’re trying to get better,” she said.
As for the team, Yukon had all of its normal starters back for the game, including Rachel Kittell, who had missed several weeks with an injury.
Katie Clark had a good night blocking, Allred said.
“Her blocks in the second set are what won that set. Her net presence is getting better. She getting a lot quicker. We play against tons of quick offenses and that’s really hard for a middle blocker.
“Both of my middle blockers are young and they have stepped up to the challenge. They are getting better and better each week,” she said.
Having Kittell back should also help improve the team’s blocking on the right side. Kittell’s height will give her a bit of an advantage, Allred said.
Bailey Thiel and Katelyn Biswell both had good nights with second touches for the Millers.
Allred said that was an area of focus over the past few days.
The coach said she is looking forward to seeing how her team does over the next week against the top teams in the state.
“I want them to see the best of the best so that when they get to the playoffs there are not any surprises. It is what we do at those two games that will set the tone for the playoffs,” she said.
Tuesday’s games will have altered start times. Freshmen will play at 3:30 p.m., followed by the junior varsity at 4:30. At 5:30, there will be a Special Olympics game between the Yukon Unified Team and the Putnam City Special Olympics Team.
Varsity will tip off at 6:30.

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