Eldorado head coach Lisa Craig called it the "deer in the headlight" effect.
Eldorado took the middle game of a three-set loss to Harrisburg Tuesday night at Duff-Kingston Gymnasium as the Bulldogs won Game 1 25-9, lost in Game 2 26-24 and won Game 3 25-21.
"We might have had some first game jitters," Craig said. "The second two games were much better. We talk in practice about hitting corners and deep since most defenses play short and a lot of the balls were going too far out. The girls' hearts were pumping and they were hitting too hard."
Abby Stead was 12-for-26 in spikes with two kills, one block and 8-for-9 on serves with 13 points and four aces for the Eagles.
Erica Graczyk finished 22-for-27 on spikes with 10 kills, while going 3-for-4 on serves with seven points, two aces and two blocks.
Kourtney Phillips was 18-for-25 on spikes with eight kills, while going 10-for-11 on serves with 15 points and four aces.
Sadie Steed was 7-for-9 on spikes with one kill. Steed went 6-for-7 on serves with 10 points and one ace. Dresdyn Bramlet finished 4-for-5 on spikes with two kills, while going 2-for-5 on serves with seven points. Mary Mitchell was 18-for-18 on sets with a 4-for-6 line on serves with 10 points.
For Harrisburg head coach Stephanie Ferrell, it was the third year coaches first win over Craig and the Eagles.
Ferrell called it a great opening season win for her squad, one where her Bulldogs came out hard in the first game.
"We lost our footing in the second game making simple mistakes," Ferrell said. "We gained our momentum back in the third. This match helped us see where we need to invest time in, such as block coverage and rapid recovery."
Devan Jones had four kills while Michaela Colbert and Whitney Younger both had three kills. Brittany Reynolds and Malayna Douglas set them up with Reynolds having five assists and Douglas having eight on the night.
Haley Thompson came out and put down five blocks and two block stuffs. Ashley Ferrell rounded out the night with five ace serves and 14 service points while Malayna Douglas served 18 points.
Both Parker Upchurch and Hannah Bartok played the last line of defense for Harrisburg poviding a barrier in the back row against Eldorado's hitters and serving consistently.
"They are a well coached team with exceptional athletes," Craig said of Eldorado. "We knew we would have a battle if we were going to beat them. I was proud of the way my kids kept giving 100 percent on the floor, at the net and serving. They never gave up."
As for Craig she noted Bartok's defense in the back, but also the Bulldogs' digging.
Page 2 of 2 - "Harrisburg did a great job of digging tonight. Nothing got past Hannah Bartok either," Craig said. "Overall, the last two games I was pleased with how we played. We need to work on our unforced errors. Hopefully that will come as we play more games. I thought Mary (Mitchell) did a great job and with more games she will know how the hitters like their sets. We moved the ball around to all the hitters and that will be an advantage later in the year."
The Harrisburg junior varsity club knocked off Eldorado in three games, rallying from a 25-18 loss to win Game 2 25-20 and Game 3 15-11.
Harrisburg junior varsity coach Heather Cox said her squad struggled with their serving Tuesday night.
"We also had a hard time getting our feet underneath us and working the nerves out of our system. With that being said, at moments I saw great potential."
The Harrisburg freshmen knocked off Eldorado in straight sets, 25-10, 25-20.
Over the weekend, Harrisburg took part in the Southern Illinois River-to-River Conference Tournament at Herrin High School. The Bulldogs knocked off Anna-Jonesboro 31-29, 24-26 and 15-11, while losing in straight sets to Carterville (19-25, 16-25), Benton (12-25, 13-25), Murphysboro (8-25, 17-25) and Herrin (25-23, 25-11).
Harrisburg is scheduled to play host to Carrier Mills Thursday at Davenport Gymnasium, while Eldorado is slated to play at Norris City-Omaha-Enfield tonight (Wednesday) and Thursday.