CONYERS, Ga - The Eastside Eagles (18-11, 6-1) volleyball team fell in two straight sets to the Woodward Academy War Eagles(14-12, 7-0) in their first region loss of the season.
The Eagles got off to a slow start in the first set against the War Eagles, and the early deficit was far too much to overcome. The Eagles did fight back and got within a few points, but the War Eagles ultimately took the set by a score of 25-17.
Although losing the first set always makes a match more tough to win, it was a very positive sign for Eagles head coach Maggie Johnston that they did show that grit and determination to try and win the set.
"One thing they did really well in the first set was not giving up on the set. They could have easily just folded and let it be a 25-10 match," Johnston said. "They did fight back one point at a time, and I believe it carried momentum over into the second set."
Johnston could not be more right as the Eagles seemed to have cleaned up their mistakes in the second set despite falling in the end. This set was much closer than the first set, and both the War Eagles and Eagles traded leads throughout the duration of the set.
The War Eagles capitalized on a few of the Eagles mistakes and ultimately pulled off a 25-21 second set victory. I overheard Johnston say to her players during the match to "Stop Watching," and she went into detail on what she meant by that.
"We can't let balls drop without us going for it. We're watching balls drop and land in front of us, and that's just a huge momentum killer," Johnston said. "We always want to be known for going after balls and being scrappy, so my biggest point was we can't watch balls."
Two players that stood out to me were juniors Addie Walters and Taylor Adams, who both made tough plays in vital moments. Johnston said that Walters was coming off a cold, but still delivered a strong performance despite few defensive lapses.
Adams seems to have become even more of a leader than the last time I saw the Eagles and was always the main voice in the huddle for the Eagles. She should have a promising future in this sport as she continues to grow this season and next.
Although it was a significant loss for the Eagles, Johnston said they try to instill in their players the ideology that every match is of the utmost importance. However, Johnston is hopeful that this will not be the last time that the Eagles see the War Eagles and hopes they get another shot at them in the region tournament.
If they hope to turn this loss into a win in the region tournament, then Johnston already has her eyes set on what area she's hoping her players will improve in the coming weeks.
"We need to work on our blocking," Johnston said. "When a team has a fast offense, our block is just slow. It's not there. What comes with that is the defense behind it because when the block is slow, then they're hitting really tough balls that our defense can't pick up."
The Eagles are cemented in second place in their region with only two more region matches left before postseason play. The Eagles next two matches come on the road Sept. 19 at Clarkston against Stone Mountain and Clarkston.