HUDSON — If the losses continue to pile up, so be it.
Cuyahoga Falls head volleyball coach Lisa Wood will always give her stamp of approval if her team accomplishes one basic but essential task.
The feisty Black Tigers remain winless in the rugged Suburban League National Conference. But they took a giant leap forward in terms of team unity.
Falls lost to host Hudson 25-19, 25-12, 25-17 Tuesday at Ray "Buck" Hyser Gymnasium.
The Black Tigers were very competitive for much of the first and third sets, respectively. Falls had a knack for digging nearly impossible balls to keep rallies alive.
At times, the Black Tigers’ blue-collar magic seemed to throw off the taller, deeper and more athletic Hudson players.
"When I first talked to [Explorers head coach] Brad [Disandis], he was telling me how he was going four games, five games to teams we lost to," Wood said. "I thought, ‘Oh, OK.’ My team played. I thought they did fabulous. I’m glad to see them playing as a team.
"I was glad to see when they were down, they still came back and fought. I thought it was a great game."
In the end, though, Hudson put matters to rest with a strong finish.
Led by Page Gross, the Explorers ended the match with an 11-4 run. Gross had eight kills and two blocks to lead Hudson’s front-row attack.
Cailynn Sullivan and Allyson Yanak each added seven kills and two blocks and Brooke Ramlow was her usual versatile self with 17 assists, 15 service points, eight digs and four kills.
Morgan Gaeta also had a strong all-around performance with 15 service points, including six aces, and nine digs.
Others who fared well for the Explorers were Amelia Hoffmeier (16 digs and two aces), Anna Faust (five digs and two aces), Rylyn Dearstine (four kills and two blocks) and Melissa Hansen (16 assists).
Left-handed front-row ace Olivia Lemmon led Falls (0-9, 0-5) with nine kills and Hope Cuppett added four kills for the Black Tigers.
Kaelyn Staples finished with nine digs and four kills and Maddie Gibbons contributed 17 assists for Falls, which made Hudson extremely uncomfortable with its defense and sometimes, unconventional swings.
"I’m so incredibly proud of my girls," Wood said. "They’re starting to realize that when the passing breaks down, it’s just kind of a windfall. They’re starting to see it, which is nice."
The Black Tigers also finished 0-2 at Woodridge Saturday. Falls lost to the host Bulldogs in three sets in the best-of-three format and to Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy in two sets.
The Black Tigers also suffered a 25-12, 25-9, 25-10 defeat to conference rival Wadsworth last Thursday at Coach Tom Jones Court.
Falls obviously has a long way to go in terms of getting its house in order. However, Tuesday’s performance was a refreshing change of scenery.
"The first couple of games we played like we saw [Tuesday]," Wood said. "We had a funk and they really defeated themselves. The last four games, I’m trying to get them to build back into a team. [Tuesday], they played like a team. I told them, ‘I’m proud of you. Let’s build from this; let’s grow from this.’"
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.