Considering that the Orioles were hosting the No. 2 ranked team in 4A, senior captain Destiny Williams felt Augusta held its own, at least in the opening set against McPherson in Tuesday's night's home triangular.
The Orioles and Bullpups stayed within three points of each other and even tied 12 times as the score reach 20-20. Courtney Phillips even served up an ace to give the Orioles a lead the point prior.
But McPherson rattled off three kills in the final four points and the Orioles made a couple errors to allow the Bullpups to win the set. McPherson went on to win the match 25-20, 25-13.
"I thought we were extremely good that first game. Just made a couple mistakes at the end, and that made all the difference in that game," coach Rich Bishop said. "From there, we just couldn't maintain focus in the second game."
The Orioles bounced back with a 25-17, 25-20 win against league foe Wellington to finish 1-1.
In the first match, the way the Orioles started a set determined just how well they'd play in that set. The Orioles were matching McPherson point for point in Set 1, but in Set 2, the Bullpups jumped to 5-0 and 9-1 leads before the Orioles got on track.
"When we come off scoring first, we do a lot better than when we don't," Williams said. "We just have to talk to each other and try and keep each other up in the game. If one person makes a mistake, you can't let them dwell over it."
Against Wellington, it was in the middle of Set 1 when the Orioles went on a 10-1 spurt to take control. Set 2 was a lot closer than it probably should have been.
"Wellington, we stooped down to their level," Williams said of her team.
Casady Marlnee played maybe her best matches of the season so far. She finished with three kills and two blocks against McPherson, and had three more kills and one block against Wellington.
Bishop said she's continuing to improve up front. Now he wants her to focus on passing from the back row, too.
"Her hitting is getting better. We're working on her technique," Bishop said. "She's coming along in that aspect. There's no doubt she's as strong as a horse."
Courtney Phillips had three kills and an ace in the final set of the night, but Bishop still wants the team to get its best hitter more touches at the net.
"She's definitely our go-to girl, and we've got to utilize her more," he said.
Augusta next plays Tuesday, Sept. 11 at Wellington with Clearwater.