A new-look offense helped Kyla Gabel dominate offensively Thursday in Academy volleyball’s first post-season match.

After a switch up in the approaching game plan, the Oklahoma Christian Academy Eagles won their first regional volleyball match last week to qualify for a regional championship appearance in the team’s first season of existence. 

“We went in there knowing that there was no pressure on us,” Academy head coach Cindy Sons said on the win. “We were the underdogs. We had to stick to what we do best. As long as we didn’t give it away through errors then we knew would have a chance.”

The Eagles beat Erick-Sweetwater in straight set regional semifinal last week after moving on from their 6-2 offense. 

Coach Sons said on Friday the Eagles started practicing a 5-1 look last Monday, then debuting it in Thursday’s regional semifinals in hopes of getting Maci Sons more looks at impacting the offense. 

“I felt like it put the ball in Maci’s hand more often,” Coach Sons said.

Maci Sons tallied nine set assists in the win, alongside a team-best six aces. She consistently found her favorite targets Thursday afternoon, the coach said, and that was part of the reason why the first-year team saw a regional championship birth. 

“We did it so Maci could set all the way around. Her setting to Kyla worked over and over,” Sons said. 

Kyla Gabel finished with five kills and three more aces herself. Bri Wietelman had six kills, too, and Wietelman combined with Sydney Duncan to reduce Erick-Sweetwater’s chances even more. 

“Sydney and Bri did a great job at the net, we really had a great all-around game as a team,” Sons said. “It’s one of the first times this year that nobody had a bad game.”

Together Duncan and Wietelman dominated the defensive front. Each had two blocks, while Wietelman hammered six kills down. Duncan matched with five herself and two aces. 

The balanced team win was a culmination of what the roster has been working towards all season long, Sons said. To imagine that a team missing all summer camps while only playing nine games in a season would qualify for a regional championship is impressive, and Sons said the year should be looked upon as a success. 

“The season was a complete success,” she said. “The girls grew as players. We’re not going anywhere.”

Though the Eagles’ post-season run ended in the regional championship after a loss to Cement, Sons said the experience gained will benefit a roster that boasts no seniors. And, she mentioned, the team will compete in summer camps and hopefully a longer regular season come 2020. 

“Our season should pick up next year,” Sons said. 

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