St. Thomas More volleyball won its fourth straight match as it dropped Hill City in four sets Tuesday, putting its record to 10-8 on the season.
No one would be able to tell if they were taking to STM coach Scott Benson after the game.
"I'm pretty disappointed in tonight," Benson said. "Just a lack of focus, lack of communication. The intensity wasn’t there tonight."
Despite that, STM won 25-16, 27-25, 24-26 and 25-17.
Benson still expressed his displeasure after the game in what has been a streaky season for the Cavaliers. Prior to this four-game winning streak, STM faced a four-game losing streak in mid September and saw its record dip to as low as 3-6.
"Regardless of wins or losses, it’s the effort that we’re seeing. We just need a higher level of it," Benson said.
Still, the Cavs has reached double digit wins, and Hill City falls to 13-14. STM had previously beaten Hill City in two sets Sept. 23 at a tournament in Belle Fourche (25-14, 25-12).
Ranger coach Lindsay Wathen said Hill City was just a stretch slow Tuesday on the road.
"I think we were moving a little slower and not reacting as quick as we needed to," she said. "We missed some serves that were really important and we made a few too many unforced errors."
The first set was dominated for the most part by STM. After getting out to a 13-9 lead the Cavs shut the door, going 12-7 the rest of the way to take the first set.
The second set was where Hill City started making some noise. It got out to a flying start, jumping on the Cavs for a 9-2 lead.
STM showed some resolve, going on a 9-4 run to pull to within 13-11. The two teams went back and forth until STM was able to wrestle away a 18-17 lead, it's first of the set.
The two teams would go back and forth until STM got the 27th point and two point advantage to take the second set.
It's been a problem that has plagued the young Rangers all season long, according to Wathen, letting teams get out to big leads and not being able to hold them off.
"I think that’s one of our goals, just trying to maintain," she said. "We do tend to be kind of up and down. We’re young and inexperienced, so we’re hoping with a little more age and experience we’ll be able to maintain that consistency."
Meanwhile, the second set was one area where Benson said he was happy with the effort shown at times.
The third set was one that was back and forth throughout, with STM tying the score at 10 early. Hill City took a 20-18 lead when the Cavs were forced to call a timeout.
STM got the lead back, but Hill City was able to take the lead away again and take the third set.
Wathen said she didn't tell her players anything special before the third set, just what she always does.
"I was just telling them to keep on going, don’t give up," she said. I don’t know if I told them anything different, we did switch the lineup up just a bit."
The lineup switch wouldn't work in the beginning of the fourth set, as the Cavs got down to business and took a 12-6 lead to start out.
Hill City could never get into rhythm after that, and STM cruised to a 13-11 finish and the four set win.
The Cavs sit in fourth in region 8A behind Christian (11-5), Lead-Deadwood (17-6) and Belle Fourche (16-0).
Benson said the issue isn't in the game planning. He said if the Cavs are going to make a move on some of the teams in front of them the biggest hurdle will be a mental one.
"Right now what we keep telling the girls is that it has very little to do with volleyball at this point," Benson said. "They need to make a decision that they want to come out and win. They can be very, very good at times and they can be very, very poor at times and they have to make that decision about how they want to finish it out."
Jessica Peterson and Alex Kandolin had big offensive nights for the Cavs, earning 12 and 11 kills respectively. Ciara Benson had nine and Aislin Duffy had eight.
STM was also able to earn 13 aces, with the bulk coming from Kandolin and Benson, who both had three. Ameyla Robinson, Anna Ketchum and Skylar Sullivan had two.
Sullivan also had 15 digs, Kandolin pitched in with 13 and Benson had nine. Robinson had 39 assists and Duffy had three blocks.
STM takes on Lead-Deadwood Thursday at home before traveling to Chadron, Neb., Monday.
Hill City will try to get back to .500 against Rapid City Christian on the road Thursday before traveling to Hot Springs Oct. 12.