SOUTH WHITLEY – Failure to communicate cost the Whitko Lady Wildcats a win on Friday.

The Whitko volleyball team fell 3-0 to a strong Columbia City squad in Whitko’s season opener at Whitko High School.

Whitko lost by game scores of 25-11, 25-14, 25-12.

The Wildcats’ struggle to talk with each other led to breakdowns in their serve-receive, which cost them points and allowed the Lady Eagles (2-1) to take control of the match.

“It’s definitely one of the biggest things that I stress to my girls, that if you want to win a game you’ve got to communicate,” said Whitko coach Jaden Biddle.

The Lady Eagles took control from the start, gliding to a 7-1 lead on the strength of strong serving and hard kills. Columbia City rode that lead to a comfortable Game 1 victory.

Biddle said she started with a different lineup in the first game, which threw off her girls. She reverted to their normal lineup in Game 2, and saw renewed focus in her team.

“They saw how the hitters were, saw how they served, so I think they realized, ‘Oh, shoot, we’ve got to go now and we have to compete now,’” Biddle said.

The Lady Wildcats fared slightly better in Game 2, and were down 12-7 before the Eagles ripped off a 5-0 run to put themselves safely ahead.

Game 3 was more of the same, as once again Whitko cut Columbia City’s lead to five midway through the game.

However, on the strength of strong serving by Naomi Rubrake, the Eagles went on a 6-0 run to extend a lead they didn’t give up.

Biddle again pointed to communication as the reason for Whitko’s mid-game breakdowns.

“I don’t know if it was the tiredness or what,” Biddle said. ‘The girls just lost that communication.”

She said fatigue may have been a factor, because multiple girls play both JV and varsity. However, she doesn’t plan to change that anytime soon.

“We are doing as much as we can with the numbers we have” Biddle said. “I never want to be out-conditioned by a team. That is one of my biggest things that I never want to say, ‘Oh, you know what, you’re tired, we’ll do something else.’”

Biddle also said that communication, as well as awareness of what the opposition is doing, will be the focus of Whitko’s upcoming practices.

Columbia City coach Suzanne Taylor was happy with her team’s performance.

“We definitely want to focus on just taking care of the ball when we have it, and just covering the floor well and executing,” she said. “I think we did both of those things.”

The Lady Wildcats are in action again Tuesday when they host Churubusco.

COLUMBIA CITY def. WHITKO 25-11, 25-14, 25-12

Whitko: Kills – Carissa Beck 4, Jadin Parrett 4. Assists – Sarah Hewitt 8. Digs – Kristina Slater 25, Hewitt 14, Elizabeth Miller 6, Mahkinsey Meyers 5.

Columbia City: Kills – Abi Potts 8, Taylor Osborn 8. Assists – Shianne Brooke 23. Digs – Sarah Pepple 13, Shianne Brooke 7, Sydney Boroff 6, Naomi Rubrake 5.  Aces – Osborn 5.