HANNIBAL – The Hannibal volleyball team’s lead in the third set was dwindling.
The heat inside Korf Gym felt like it was rising, too.
Hannibal coach Megan Phillips called timeout as Payson Seymour closed within one point, and she kept her message simple in the huddle.
"I just told them to take a deep breath," Phillips said. "We just needed to regroup and get one pass up on the serve-receive."
It was the words the Pirates needed.
After trading the next two points, Hannibal went on a 5-0 run that helped seal a 25-15, 22-25, 25-20 victory Tuesday night in its season opener.
"We just needed a minute to clear our heads," Hannibal senior Emma Deien said. "We caught our breath and cleared our minds. It really relieved the frustration of the game."
The heat inside the gym made the game more taxing. Outside temperatures reached the 90s during the day, and inside a gym without air conditioning made it seem even warmer.
That heat started influencing play in the second set as Payson (4-7) led by as many six points.
"It’s way more exhausting and draining," Deien said. "It seemed a lot hotter this week. We stopped communicating and got down ourselves, and that was definitely exhaustion."
Phillips said the lack of communication was costly in the set.
"It just made our passes not what they should be," Phillips said. "But we definitely picked it up in the third. We just put a little more into that."
The third set was tied at 5-5 before a serving error gave Hannibal (1-0) the lead. Payson made an error on the ensuing serve receive before Hannibal made a serving error to make it 7-6. The Pirates, however, answered with four straight points.
Bella Falconer and Kaylee Falconer each had kills in that run.
Hannibal’s lead grew to as large as 16-10 before Payson scored five straight points to cut the deficit to one. Bella Falconer had another kill after a Hannibal timeout, but Payson’s Amanda Maiers answered with a kill.
Hannibal scored the next five points thanks to kills from Kaylee Falconer and Abby Baumann and didn’t look back. Bella Falconer and Deien led Hannibal with 10 kills apiece, while Kaylee Falconer had 19 assists.
"I thought our serve receive kind of fell off a little bit there," Payson coach Teresa Loos-Tedrow said. "But then when we did get good passes, we didn’t finish. But I think once we get clicking with our rotations we’ll be OK."
Abby Coonrod led Payson with 14 kills, while Kaylee Burgess had 29 assists.