Strong start: Hubbard sweeps Howland

HUBBARD – You never would have guessed it was the first match of the season for the Hubbard Eagles volleyball team.

Yes, there were some early-match nerves and a near loss of the first game, but that gave way to a strong effort in games two and three as the Eagles defeated the Howland Tigers, 25-21, 25-9 and 25-17.

“I was very happy with that,” second-year Eagles coach Jeremy Porter said. “We’ve been working hard all summer and throughout the offseason. We came out and played really well as a group.”

Porter probably didn’t know what to expect from the inexperienced Eagles, who have no seniors and just two juniors. Porter received a good effort from Macey Sarisky, who finished with 11 kills, 20 points and six aces. Caitlin O’Hara added eight kills. Kelly Matanin registered 29 assists, and Kiana Martinez had 17 digs.

It appeared as if the Tigers might win the first game. Howland had leads of 10-7, 13-12 and 20-17 before the Eagles scored eight of the final nine points to win the game.

“It’s our first game, and when you put that much time into something you want everything to go perfectly,” Porter said. “Sports and volleyball and life aren’t so perfect. We battled through that, and it was good to see them rise to the occasion in that second and third game.”

For third-year Howland coach Amanda Lingenfelter, it was like old home week. Lingenfelter is a 2002 graduate of Hubbard, where she once held the game and match school records for digs. She learned much of her coaching lessons from long-time coach and now athletic director Chuck Montgomery and Porter, who was an assistant for Montgomery.

“I learned a lot of good things from him (Montgomery) and Porter,” Lingenfelter said. “Porter was my first jayvee coach ever. He’s been fun to coach with and against. It’s always a good time to come here.”

Lingenfelter is also working with a team that’s young in experience. She liked what she saw in the first game, but she wasn’t surprised to see the Eagles finish strong.

“We were excited just to come out and compete,” Lingenfelter said. “I think they caught themselves a little bit off guard doing as well as they were doing right off the bat.

“We started a little bit earlier than Hubbard, so they (the Eagles) were making some mistakes early and we were trying to capitalize on them. We played the game we need to maintain throughout a whole match instead of on a game-by-game basis.”

Christian Carr finished with 11 kills and 10 digs for the Tigers. Cassie Murcko had five blocks, Kara Rushin registered 21 assists and Jessica Moore had four aces.