The first match of the 2021 volleyball season felt a bit like the first day of school for Polk County.
The young Wolverines showed flashes of the potential that has head coach Molly Hill so excited about the season, but also struggled to find their way at other moments Wednesday in suffering a 25-13, 25-20, 25-13 setback to Asheville Christian Academy.
The Lions (6-1), defending NCISAA 3A state champions, were playing in their seventh match of the season to Polk County’s first, and ACA’s passing and defense often reflected that as compared to the Wolverines, who perhaps battled nerves in a match shifted earlier in the day to Polk due to a leaking roof at Asheville Christian.
But the Wolverines, who started three freshmen and two sophomores while missing another key sophomore (Ada Kelley, sidelined with an injury), still had a number of moments where things clicked. No doubt there will be more of those to come.
“I was jumping up and down and screaming, I saw some amazing things,” Hill said. “We just had too many moments of confusion and chaos. We couldn’t serve receive, we couldn’t set off serve receive, and we let those things overwhelm us.
“I told them in the locker room that we will learn from this and do better and not let that happen again. A match like this puts things in perspective a litle bit.”
Polk County kept pace with ACA in the first set, at one point tied 12-12 and holding serve. But a kill by Peyton Hightower started a run of 11 straight points for the Lions, and while Morgan Yoder stopped the flurry with a kill of her own, ACA responded with two points to close the set.
The Lions jumped out to a 9-3 lead in the second set, only to see Polk fight back to an 11-9 deficit. ACA quickly responded with five straight points and kept the margin safely in hand to take the set.
The Lions grabbed an early 6-1 lead in the final set and never allowed Polk to get within striking distance in closing the match.
Ella Waldman finished with 23 digs, with Zaelea Eller adding seven digsm seven assists and two aces.
Caroline Taylor had 11 digs, four blocks and five kills for Polk, with Yoder adding five kills and six blocks. Sophia Overholt had 12 digs and three kills.
The Wolverines are back in action Thursday, traveling to East Henderson for a non-conference match. The match is scheduled to be shown live on the NFHS Network.