One aspect that's different about the Mexico volleyball program this season compared to years past under head coach Shayla Cox is that in 2018-19 the Lady Bulldogs are fielding a freshman squad in addition to the JV and varsity.
That doesn't mean Cox gets paid any more nor does it mean the school district alots her program any more funding for things like staffing. Instead, not only does Cox get to take on a greater work load with the addition of the freshman team, new assistant coach Mendie Tutt accepted her position knowing she'd have to do the same. Yet, somehow both were more than willing to do what needed to be done and they began setting the tone this summer, which then carryed over into the regular season.
Despite the fact not every program can field three squads for Mexico to play against, Marshall is not one of those teams and that's who came to town Thursday for a North Central Missouri Conference matchup and beat the Lady Bulldogs in two sets, x-25, 22-25.
"We had a lot of missed serves, which is just giving away points. We allowed ourselves to make more mistakes than we forced them to make and that was the difference," said Cox. "The games weren't that far apart. We battled through. When we got to point 17 or 18 (Marshall) forced us to make mistakes. They found the holes and put the ball where it needed to go. We weren't able to force them to make mistakes. We were the ones making the mistakes tonight."
One positive on the evening even in the face of defeat was the fact Payton Bledsoe returned to the lineup for Mexico. Previously she had been on crutches with a leg injury, but thanks to careful management of her condition and a new diagnosis the senior was able to come back sooner than expected.
"(Bledsoe) was out with what we thought was a stress fracture. We weren't real sure, so we kind of babied it a little bit. This was her first game back. We're glad to have her back, but we have a lot of work to do," Cox said. "We've got three kids who are 5-foot-10, 5-foot-11. Marshall only had two kids that tall. Height-wise we're probably bigger than they are. We just need to clean it up."
The JV program, on the other hand, wasn't quite so fortunate. That's because Sierra Patrick has a quad injury and will probably be out most of the season. The team also lost in two sets. That includes getting edged out in the second set, 23-25.
"They didn't rotat very well. Their passing wasn't very good. We're looking a lot better and seeing Improvement," said Cox. "It's just the little things we have to clean up or you're not going to come out on top against a team that already has those issues cleaned up."
The team that impressed Cox the most Thursday evening was the freshman. While the reason for this goes deeper than what lies on the surface, the big reason she was so happy with her youngest squad is that they came back to just barely defeat Marshall in three sets.
"The Freshmen started a little rough, but this was only their second game out. They came back and fought hard. They're just scrappy," Cox said. "They want to be on the court and they play hard. They played well tonight despite a lot of misserves. The battled and got past that. They did well."
The Mexico varsity, 0-4 overall, 0-2 NCMC, was in Columbia on Saturday to compete in a tournament hosted by Hickman and today the team is at Centralia for a non-league matchup.