The mini-huddles Morrilton was having after winning points in the latter of half of its match against Alma on Thursday seemed different.
The typical rah-rah was there. So was something else. Like a momentum shift personified.
The Lady Devildogs rallied from facing match point in the third and fourth games to beat Alma, 21-25, 19-25, 27-25, 26-24, 15-9 at Dyer Arena.
A spent Morrilton coach Patti Hill sat for a couple minutes on the bench after it was over, catching her breath.
"This is the second match we’ve won this year in conference after being down two," she said. "I’m too old for this."
It made sense Morrilton (5-2, 5A-West) felt it wasn’t out of the match. The first two games alone featured 23 ties. By the time the clincher came around an hour later, Morrilton was in control.
It helped Anna Adams snap out of her early funk. The senior outside hitter had 12 of her team-high 15 kills in the final three games. One tied the fourth game for the final time before the Lady Devildogs finished it and another three came in the fifth set.
Three more Morrilton players had at least seven kills.
It’s the second loss in as many games for the Lady Airedales (4-3) in such a manner.
"Lost in five Tuesday, lost in five tonight. It’s tough," Alma coach Tiffaney Drinkwitz said. "We’ve got to learn to finish."
Things began positively enough. Alma used 6-1 run to win the first and 7-0 run to break open the second in looking well way on its way to sole possession of third place in the conference.
Drinkwitz isn’t sure what happened.
"We didn’t have a whole lot of errors. Lots of rallies, they just ended up winning those," she said. "They made adjustments and found our holes and we weren’t able to find theirs as easy after the third game."
There were pluses. Hailey Ostrander had a game-high 42 digs for Alma. Middle blockers Aubrey Bailey and Alexys Criswell led with 17 and 14 kills. Sophomore Victoria Mayne, in her first varsity game, added nine more.
And Alma’s errors were almost half of what Morrilton had. It was the timing that hurt them.
The Lady Devildogs reeled off six of the final seven points to force a fourth game, with four of the six coming off Alma miscues — three attacking errors and a net violation. In that fourth, Alma never trailed by more than three points and picked up another match point, 24-23. But consecutive errors gave Morrilton the lead and Chloe Vaught settled it with a kill.
When Morrilton scored nine of 11 points in the fifth, it was clear the Lady Devildogs had listened to Hill.
"I’ve been talking for three days about the difference between desire and determination. Desire, everybody wants to win. You’ve got to be determined to win," Hill said. "Finally in games three, four and five, we figured that out."