It's a pattern that will drive any coach crazy — the team plays well in earning a healthy lead but then takes its foot off the gas pedal, allowing the opponent back into the contest.
Thursday evening, the South Western girls' volleyball team implemented this pattern three times against Dallastown, much to the chagrin of Mustang coach Cathy Harman.
"We sometimes think teams are just going to stop playing and they don't," said Harman. "Dallastown certainly didn't."
But despite the Wildcats making big runs each game, the Mustangs had just enough push at the end to finish off a 25-20, 25-22, 25-20 sweep of the home team in both teams' start of the second tour through the league schedule.
The worst example of South Western relaxing came in the opening game where the Mustangs cruised to 24-10 lead behind five kills from Tori Sager.
Wildcats senior Lauren Cooksey stepped up to the service line and recorded 10 consecutive points, getting help from Paige Childs who notched a pair of kills and a block during the run.
Coming out of a Harman timeout, Hannah McMaster finally finished the game for South Western (6-4, 4-2) with a block of a Dallastown attack that just barely fell inside the line for the clinching point.
"That was a serve-receive issue," Harman said. "Some of the players doubt themselves in games. We just stopped playing too early."
Dallastown coach Shannon Werner pointed to the absence of starting libero Kat Forry, out due to sickness, as a contributing factor to falling behind by such a huge margin to the start the match.
"Tonight was just different. (Not having Forry) was probably why we started so slow. Once we got comfortable, we played much better," said Werner, who was also missing Tessa Myers due to injury.
Sophomore A.J. Hale took over libero duties and performed well in an unfamiliar role, with a solid serve-receive effort to go with a match-high 19 digs.
Dallastown (3-6, 2-5) had a much better start to Game 2, tying the game at six on a South Western ball-handling error.
But again, the Mustangs took control and led 20-14 on a Morgan Czapp kill, only to see Dallastown go on an 8-2 run to tie the game at 22.
After a timeout, South Western closed out its fifth-consecutive victory with three straight points on kills by Madisyn McMaster, Summer Small and Bonna Sheehan.
"We just don't have the experience to win matches like this," said Werner. "It's not a talent thing. We have 12 kids and they can all do their jobs."
South Western def. Dallastown, 25-20, 25-22, 25-20 at Dallastown
South Western stats — Hannah McMaster (3 kills, 14 assists, 2 blocks, 10 digs), Tori Sager (8 kills, 3 aces , 1 block, 13 digs), Summer Small (8 kills, 1 ace, 1 block), Bonna Sheehan (3 kills, 11 assists, 1 ace, 5 digs), Madisyn McMaster (8 kills, 3 aces, 1 block, 3 digs), Abi Gatz (8 digs).
Dallastown stats — Toni Cappas (11 kills, 1 ace, 1 block), Paige Childs (10 kills, 1 ace, 2 blocks), Olivia Terroso (3 kills, 1 block), Emma Mason (1 kill, 18 assists, 3 digs), Delaney Kolb (3 kills), A.J. Hale (1 kill, 2 assists, 19 digs), Lauren Cooksey (11 digs).
JV Score — Dallastown def. South Western, 16-25, 25-22, 15-13.