By Teddy Rydquist
Leader Sports Writer
After dropping their OAA opener, 3-0, to the Clarkston Wolves on Sept. 19, the Oxford Wildcats volleyball program was looking to get back in the win column when they hosted their biggest rival, the Lake Orion Dragons, on Sept. 24.
Instead, the Dragons served the Wildcats the same treatment the Wolves did, defeating them 3-0. Winning the first set 25-21, Lake Orion widened the gap in the second set with a 25-19 win thanks to back-to-back aces from freshman Nina Horning in the middle of the set.
Racing out to a 6-0 lead in the final set, it appeared the Wildcats would at least be able to salvage one for the day. Creeping back into it, Lake Orion eventually tied the action at 14, before sealing the deal with a 10-0 run.
“Our lack of communication on our passing hurt us,” assistant coach Rick Wootten-Smith summarized. “We let too many balls drop. We attacked well but struggled when we were served at.”
While they ultimately came up short, junior Emma LaBarge and senior Sydney Richter kept the Wildcats close and were able to spark some brief runs throughout the match. “When we can get her set, she’s one of our best players,” Wootten-Smith said of LaBarge. “She does a lot of good things for us out there.”
Their second game of the week, the girls hit the road to play the Stoney Creek Cougars on Thursday, Sept. 26. For the third match in a row, the team was defeated, 3-0.
Winless in league play, Oxford is tied with the Birmingham Groves Falcons and the Troy Colts at the bottom of the OAA Red standings.
There is reason for optimism, however. The three teams the Wildcats have faced – Clarkston, Lake Orion and Stoney Creek – are the top-three teams in the Red and are all undefeated. The Wildcats schedule will begin to lighten up, giving them an opportunity to make up some ground in this tough division.
Overall, the Wildcats sit at 16-11-2 on the season. At 0-3 in league play, Oxford is tied with Birmingham Groves and Troy at the bottom of the OAA Red standings.
A golden opportunity to pick up their first league win of the year, the Wildcats host Troy on Thursday, Oct. 3 at 7 p.m.