WARDSVILLE, Mo. - Practice makes perfect.
Blair Oaks placed an emphasis on attacking at the net Wednesday in practice. It paid off Thursday as the Lady Falcons racked up a whopping 25 kills in a 25-19, 25-13 victory against School of the Osage at the Blair Oaks gym.
"We talked Wednesday in practice about being more aggressive both blocking and being aggressive in our attacks and just going after it," Blair Oaks head coach Joy Northweather said. "If you play it safe, down the stretch at the end of October, we're not going to be ready to go."
Paige Stockman highlighted the attack with eight kills, Paige Rackers contributed six and Maggie Hoskins and Allison Maxwell added four apiece.
"I want to see it every match from her," Northweather said of Stockman's match. "She hammered a couple balls. She probably hit three or four balls harder than I've seen her hit most of last year. Very, very happy that she's stepping on the court ready to go. That's what we need."
Other than the added emphasis on aggressiveness in practice, Northweather said another reason for the surge in kills was shaking off the first-match jitters following Tuesday's win against Linn.
"Much more confidence I think," she said. "Part of that is just getting that first match out of the way. Part of it is knowing we've played the team before, we've seen them. I think we were confident in what we could do against them. I just think we need to take that into every match."
Blair Oaks trailed for the first time this season in the opening set, as Osage jumped out to an early 2-1 advantage.
Later, with Blair Oaks ahead 5-3, the Lady Falcons used a 16-6 run to open a nearly insurmountable 21-9 edge. Nearly insurmountable because Osage made quite a run at it, closing to within 23-19. Kills from Madison Abbott and Maxwell handed Blair Oaks the opening-set win.
"We got caught on our heels a couple times," Northweather said of Osage's late rally. "You start opening that door and it builds confidence on the other side of the net.
"In the (between-set) huddle I mentioned to the girls that we opened a door for them. You don't want to let teams know your weakness. You want to get after it every single point. I said, "We need to slam the door back shut. We need to show them that we're the stronger team tonight and we're going take this set. We're going to battle for every point.'"
Blair Oaks sure slammed the door in the second set.
The Lady Falcons jumped out to a 10-1 lead thanks to a couple aces from Jessica Clark and kills from Stockman (three) and Taylor Stockman (one). Osage never got closer than six the rest of the way.
Maxwell and Rackers closed out the set with the final two points on kills.
"I was impressed with how we refocused and came back and took care of it," Northweather said.
Maxwell added five blocks, while Clark had five digs and three aces.
"We wanted to come out strong in our first conference match," Northweather said, referring to the opening Tri-County Conference contest for the Lady Falcons.
Blair Oaks (2-0) hosts Fulton at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Blair Oaks won the JV game 25-20, 25-13.
Ryan Dudenhoeffer paced the Lady Falcons with seven kills and eight blocks. Kailey Wieberg added four kills, Kellie Fredendall had nine assists and Rebecca Schroeder added three aces.
Blair Oaks won the freshman game 25-14, 25-17.
Sidney Bernskoetter led the way with three assists and three aces.