MATTOON — The first two sets went almost as smooth as could be for the Lake Land volleyball team on Wednesday at Laker Field House against Rend Lake.
Lake Land got out to an early lead in both the first and second sets and held off any type of Rend Lake run. Lake Land won both sets 25-17.
From that point on, Lake Land rarely led again as Rend Lake won the next two sets both by the score of 25-22.
Then in the fifth set, Lake Land grabbed a lead, but it was short-lived, as Rend Lake took a slight advantage and completed the comeback with a 15-13 fifth-set win.
Lake Land coach Ashli Robison took the blame for the loss since she made some changes to the lineup after the first two sets to get a few players some extra time on the court.
“I told the girls that I will take the blame because I shouldn’t have changed the lineup. I went into that thinking I was giving them experience,” Robison said. “That changed the whole momentum of the match. Rend Lake is a team that can take something like that and run with it. They get confidence off energy and confidence off errors. Our team is the exact opposite.
“Once an error happens, we snowball off it, and that’s one of the things that we are facing with a young mentality.”
Lake Land fell to 10-17 overall and 2-4 in the Great Rivers Athletic Conference. Rend Lake improves to 4-14 overall and 2-5 in the GRAC.
Robison said the team needs to get better at the mental aspect of the game.
“We are young volleyball-wise, so growing as a volleyball player and being mentally tough and knowing to move on from those errors (is key),” Robison said. “Everyone can grow from being mentally strong. We have the capability for sure athletically, it’s just our mental game is our number one (issue). It’s the little devil on our shoulder, and that’s something where we have a month to figure out and I thought we would have it figured out by now.
“Teams like Rend Lake can get under your skin and roll with it. Unfortunately, it was their night tonight.”
It was the first game back at Laker Field House for Mattoon graduate Emily Watson this season. The sophomore setter returned to the lineup at the Kankakee tournament this past weekend from an injury.
“When you get a second setter back, it’s nothing but good things because you have six hitters then,” Robison said. “That’s something that we did really well this weekend, and I really thought we were taking those seven steps forward and we took four steps back.
“Emily is back fresh, so she is always getting back into shape, learning her offense again and learning the players. That’s one of the easiest (changes) that you can make in a lineup. That’s something we should be on top of, too, and unfortunately it wasn’t our night.”
Lake Land had a 10-7 lead to start the first set and started to pull away with a 15-9 lead. The Lady Lakers kept the nice cushion and went on to win the first set 25-17.
In the second set, Lake Land slowly pulled away in the first half of the set for a 14-9 lead. Lake Land extended it to a 19-11 lead in the second set and went on to with by eight at 25-17 for the 2-0 lead.
Rend Lake grabbed an 11-8 lead in the third set and extended it to 14-9 when Lake Land appeared to be taking back control of the set. The Lady Lakers went on an 8-0 run to take a 17-15 lead and were up 19-16.
Rend Lake didn’t go away in the set and went on a 6-0 run to retake the lead at 22-19. Lake Land took the next point, but couldn’t get any closer as Rend Lake won 25-22.
The fourth set was tight and Rend Lake took a small 12-9 lead when Lake Land tied the set at 17. Lake Land went up 19-18, but Rend Lake retook the lead and finished on a 7-3 run for a 25-22 win.
In the fifth set, Lake Land fell behind 3-1 before a 4-0 run put the Lady Lakers up 5-3. Rend Lake came right back with a 4-0 run for a 7-5 lead when Lake Land ended up tying the set at 10. With the set tied at 12, Rend Lake won the next two points and went on to win 15-13.
“I told the girls it wasn’t just one person, it was everybody,” Robison said. “It was girls on the bench, girls on the court, it was the coaches. We just couldn’t figure out what was going to work for us.”