Ontario volleyball spoils opening of Pleasant's new gym – Marion Star

MARION — The takeaway from Thursday night’s debut of the new gymnasium at Pleasant High School is it’s going to take time for the Spartans to enjoy a homecourt advantage in volleyball.
That’s how different the new venue is from the old Stan Kirby Gymnasium across the road.
“It’s still pretty new for us so we’re learning,” Pleasant coach Kory Ute said. “Obviously being the first match, we knew there would be some issues with back lines and making sure we knew where our bodies were. They’re not used to that.”
The Spartans didn’t christen their new facility the way they wanted, falling in four sets to Ontario Thursday night. The Warriors won the Mid Ohio Athletic Conference clash 25-27, 25-20, 25-15, 25-23.
“Honestly we’ve only been practicing in here for a week-and-a-half,” Ute said after their first home match of the season. “It’s almost like it’s an away game just being here, outside of the crowd. I was really pleased with the crowd on a Thursday night.”
The old gym had a low ceiling and very little room off the court before running into bleachers or walls. It was always stifling hot and the lighting was sub-par and shadowy. None of those obstacles are a part of the new layout. The roof is high. There’s lots of runoff room. The lighting is bright. The floor is true and grippy.
“It’s nice. It’s a great place,” Ute said. “You can have two courts and still have the bleachers out a little bit, so we have the potential to run tournaments here. They’ve done a good job of preparing for different sports playing in here. It will be fun to watch it as it grows. It’s a great facility.
“Our locker room is unbelievable. The parents have furnished it. It’s like a college dorm room. We’ve had a lot of giving people this year, so it’s time for us to give back and get those wins when we can.”
The Spartans (3-4, 2-3) were hoping for a different outcome in what was a truly historic night with the first match played in the new gym.
“These seniors have been waiting a long time. Basically their whole high school experience has been waiting for this high school building. We wanted it to be extra special, and it fell a little bit short tonight,” she said.
Pleasant was in control early on, racing out to a six-point lead midway through the first set. Ontario rallied late to push the Spartans, but Pleasant held on for the 27-25 win. The second set saw the Warriors (4-5, 2-3) hold the edge before slowly pulling away late, and the visitors controlled the third set to go up 2-1.
“I thought maybe at River Valley (in a 3-1 road win last week) when we kept up our stride the whole time that we’d beat it. We revert to it when we maybe have a little bit of controversy and just aren’t sure,” Ute said. “We’re good players, but we’ve got to get better, and we have to be able to read an offense a little better. We didn’t have near the touches at the net that we normally have.”
“Our worst enemy is ourselves. We get that look like we don’t know that we can do it, and we’ve already done that. Battling that is just a demon we’ve got to get rid of,” Ute said.
Pleasant changed out to an early lead in the fourth set before Ontario came back to make it a back-and-forth affair. The Warriors eventually closed it out late 25-23.
Ute didn’t like the way her team attacked at the net during crucial spots in the match.
“We start lightening up on the ball. We’ve got good hitters. They’ve just got to be able to hit,” she said. “They’ve got to think about where they’re going and find the location and vary the speed. When we don’t put all those pieces together, it just doesn’t work for us. The basics are we have to come ready to go and have multiple game plans when something falls apart.”
The Spartans go on the road again, playing Saturday at Northmor and then two more road games in the league next week at Galion and Marion Harding. Six of their last eight dual matches of the regular season will be played in the new gym.
“We are blessed here,” Ute said. “Good things are coming. We said at the beginning of the year our goal was to surprise a lot of people. Hopefully we can do that.”
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