WINFIELD, W.Va. — A tale of two matches … each with a common theme.
The start often determines the finish.
The Point Pleasant volleyball team cruised to its fourth straight victory of the season following a 25-6, 25-8 victory over Logan, then stumbled out of the gates and never caught up in a 25-17, 25-23 setback to host Winfield on Thursday night during a tri-match in Putnam County.
The Lady Knights (4-1) trailed by a single point on only two occasions in their straight-game victory over the Lady Wildcats, a match that saw PPHS establish leads of at least 17 points in both contests.
The night cap, however, saw the Lady Generals win Game 1 in wire-to-wire fashion before battling through 10 ties and 11 lead changes in the finale.
The Red and Black never led by more than a single point on six different occasions throughout Game 2, and WHS rallied back to tie things up each time before reaching a 22-all score.
The Green and White broke serve for a 23-22 cushion, then scored two of the final three points while handing PPHS its first loss of the 2017 campaign.
In the end, it was a night full of mixed emotions.
On one hand, Point Pleasant was near dominant against LHS. On the other hand, the Lady Knights struggled early with WHS and starting gaining momentum just a little too late.
After the tri-match, PPHS coach Marla Cottrill spoke about the ups and downs of the evening. Then again, as she noted, sitting 4-1 two weeks into the season isn’t the end of the world.
“We’re disappointed with the second match, but we’re not upset. Winfield is our mountain, so to speak, and we really wanted to win that one — but it really came down to execution,” Cottrill said. “We didn’t do the little things well in that first set and we started to play better in that second set, but we just didn’t execute when we needed to.
“This is only our fifth match of the year and we are pleased with where we are so far, but we have some things to work on in practice. I think we learned some things tonight both in victory and in defeat, so hopefully we will continue to grow from this experience.”
The Lady Knights stormed out to lead of 3-0, 9-3 and 14-4 before tacking on 11 of the final 13 points — including the last eight points — en route to a 19-point win and a 1-0 match lead against Logan.
LHS secured leads at 1-0 and 3-2 in Game 2, but Point Pleasant reeled off 16 of the next 19 points while building a commanding 18-6 edge.
The Lady Cats rallied with consecutive points to close to within 10, but PPHS answered the seven straight points to close out the match with a 17-point triumph.
Olivia Dotson led the Lady Knights with 10 service points and seven aces, followed by Madison Hatfield with seven points and Mackenzie Freeman with six points.
Brenna Dotson was next with five points, while Gracie Cottrill and Peyton Jordan added four points apiece. Sami Saunders also had three service points for victors.
Brenna Dotson led the Red and Black with seven kills and a block, followed by Lanea Cochran with three kills and a block. Cottrill and Haley Milhoan also added a kill apiece to the win.
Abby Ratliff, Haley Maynard, Alexis Adkins, Reyvin Cottle and Taryn Baisden had a service point apiece for Logan.
Winfield jumped out to leads of 3-0, 8-1 and 16-4 in the first game against Point Pleasant, but the Lady Knights reeled off 11 of the next 14 points to close the deficit down to 19-15.
PPHS, however, was never closer as WHS won six of the last eight points en route to claiming an eight-point win and a 1-0 match advantage.
Neither squad led by more than four points in the second game, and Winfield built early leads of 3-0, 5-1 and 8-4. PPHS answered with an 8-4 run of its own to tie things at 12, then Point took its first lead at 13-12.
Both teams found themselves deadlocked at 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19, with the Lady Knights taking their final lead of the game at 19-18.
Winfield managed to take leads following ties at 19, 21 and 22 before facing a match point with serve at 24-22.
PPHS broke serve and closed to within a single point at 24-23, but the hosts also broke serve to wrap up the minimal two-point win while also claiming the match victory.
Freeman and Brenna Dotson led the Lady Knights with four service points apiece, followed by Cottrill and Hatfield with three points each. Jordan also had one service point in the setback.
Cochran and Brenna Dotson led the PPHS net attack with three kills apiece, with Cochran also leading the way with three blocks.
Olivia Dotson was next with two kills, while Cottrill and Tristan Wilson also added a kill apiece. Wilson also recorded a block.
Autumn Elswick and Madison Mowyer led Winfield with seven service points apiece, followed by Kylie Williams with five points.
Point Pleasant returns to action Monday when it hosts Wayne at 6 p.m.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.