But, as lopsided as their victories have been, they’ve been just as lopsided in defeat, losing their first two matches against both Antioch and Deer Valley by a collective score of 2-12. Last week Freedom hosted Antioch in a match in which the Panthers took the first two games 25-18 and 25-19, but the Falcons rallied to win the third game 25-21 before succumbing 18-25 in the final game.
“It was a hard-fought match,” said Antioch Coach Rick Barton. “Freedom came out and played really good volleyball. I think our guys came in a little over-confident. They got challenged. But they rose to the occasion and managed to get the win.”
According to Freedom Coach Kellie Goldberg, “It was a good match. Antioch played hard. I think there was a lot of calls that didn’t go in our favor. But all in all, we are excited to play them again at the end of the season.”
Antioch, after a lackluster last season in which it went 9-13 overall and 7-7 in league play, is much improved this year. The recent win upped the Panthers’ overall record to 10-6 (6-1 in league play). The one league loss was to Deer Valley, which Antioch played again on Tuesday, results of which were not available at press time. “They have a real good team, but hopefully we can challenge them this year, push them a little bit,” said Barton.
The Panthers are benefiting this year from last year’s rebuilding program, in which they fielded five sophomores who are now juniors. “We’ve got a little experience,” said Barton. “They are really growing into and starting to understand the little things about volleyball that just come with experience. It’s hard to teach it in a gym or practice; you learn it by playing games or experience. They are starting to pick that stuff up now. They have the desire. They practice hard and want to learn how to play. They listen in practice and apply the things we are teaching them.”
The loss dropped Freedom to 3-5 overall (3-4 in league play). “It’s been going pretty well,” said Goldberg. “Antioch and Deer Valley have been our only major competition. So we are hoping that in the third time around we can put an end to their victories over us.
“The guys (on the team) are a lot of fun. They are really committed and they come out and play hard. We are looking forward to the rest of the season and hoping to come out a little bit better than where we are at right now.”
Freedom faced Liberty on Tuesday and Heritage on Thursday and plays next on Tuesday, April 27, hosting Pittsburg. Antioch played Pittsburg on Thursday and hosts Liberty on Tuesday. Antioch and Freedom meet for the last time on May 4.