Down two sets to visiting Franklin, the fought back and nearly pushed the match to a decisive fifth set, but the Panthers were able to hold off the Black Knights for a 3-1 win on Tuesday.
Franklin won the first two sets, 25-18 and 25-17; Stoughton won the third, 25-23; and Franklin closed out the match with a 25-20 win in the fourth set.
With the loss, Stoughton falls to 2-1 on the season.
“We beat ourselves. There was nothing on the other side we couldn’t overcome,” Stoughton coach Ken Gay said.
“We can’t be reacting to [the other team]. If we don’t set plays, we’re not going to win.”
Gay said Stoughton “had way too many free balls,” which allowed Franklin to set up their play.
With Franklin leading 19-16 in the third set, Stoughton was just six points away from being swept. But the Black Knights scored four straight points to take a 20-19 lead. It was Stoughton’ first lead in the third set since they scored the opening point to go up 1-0.
The two teams then went back and forth over the next series of points before Stoughton, now leading 23-22, closed out the set winning two of the final three points.
“We were setting our play,” Gay said. “The outside hitters were hitting.”
In the fourth set, Stoughton built a 17-14 lead, but couldn’t hold it. Franklin called a timeout and returned to score six straight points to turn a three-point deficit into a three-point lead. Leading 20-17, Franklin scored five of the final eight points to close out the set and the match.
Gay said he noticed Franklin took advantage of a “cold player,” i.e. a player who just entered the match. Franklin would immediately test any Stoughton player subbing into the rotation.
“You have to be ready coming off the bench,” Gay said.
Stoughton will look to bounce back Friday at Oliver Ames.