Oxford Prep volleyball

Oxford Prep volleyball player Holly Currin (center) dives for the ball during her team’s 3-0 loss to East Wake Academy on Wednesday evening.

OXFORD — A valiant effort by the Oxford Prep volleyball team to claim their first victory of the 2020-21 season ultimately came up short against the undefeated East Wake Academy, who obtained a 3-0 win Wednesday evening.

Head coach April Abbott did not hide her frustration with the team’s overall lack of cohesion against East Wake Academy, and attributed the struggles to her players not having confidence despite boasting the talent to win.

“There was just a lack of effort,” Abbott said. “Their mentality is that they’ve already lost before they enter the gym and that’s something we’re trying hard to fix.”

The two programs had previously met Dec. 2, with East Wake Academy controlling the game through the first two sets before Oxford Prep made a run in the third set to extend the game, only to fall short 25-20.

A similar pattern started to play out in the first set of Wednesday’s game, as East Wake Academy dominated Oxford Prep on both offense and defense to claim an easy 25-10 victory, which gave them plenty of momentum heading into the second set.

Abbott was not pleased with the performance her players put together during that first set and encouraged them to remember all of the techniques they worked on in practice and to have confidence in the idea of defeating East Wake Academy with three consistent sets.

“I told them that I had subs on the bench and that I was going to use them if they didn’t pick things up,” Abbott said. “I think that kind of sparked some stuff with my starters and they put in a little more effort, but sometimes we have to put in more effort than the girls think they are capable of.”

Oxford Prep responded to Abbott’s message by holding their own with East Wake Academy during the second set. They stayed within striking distance of the lead, but were not able to get the run needed to overtake East Wake Academy, who won by a score of 25-21.

The loss did not deter Oxford Prep, as they started the third set by pulling away with a three-point advantage. East Wake Academy maintained their aggression by exchanging several ties with an opponent determined to force a fourth set.

The confidence and efficiency Oxford Prep displayed suddenly vanished when East Wake Academy scored several consecutive points to put the game out of reach for Oxford Prep. A discombobulated Oxford Prep proceeded to make several more mistakes before East Wake Academy closed out the evening with a 25-11 win.

Although Abbott has seen some small improvements from Oxford Prep throughout the year, she wants to see her players adjust their mentality before and during the game so that they can be more confident and competitive to close out the season.

“My girls have athletic ability,” Abbott said. “They know the game of volleyball, they are coached extremely hard in practice, but we can not get practice to transition into a game. Once that happens, everything else will fall into place, but right now, we have to work on the mental aspect.”

An 0-6 Oxford Prep will return to action this evening when they host a winless Henderson Collegiate at 6 p.m.