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Corydon Central's Makenzie Episcopo, left, slides in to receive a serve, while teammate Shaifer Eastridge provides support on the back line Monday versus Meade County (Ky.). Photo by Brian Smith

Young Lady Panthers drop opener

August 20, 2014 | 10:39 AM

Toeing the service line, the volleyball season commenced Monday throughout the state.

Coming into the season with a host of inexperienced players on the varsity level, host Corydon Central took on out-of-state foe Meade County (Ky.) in Corydon.

The Lady Panthers had spurts of solid defensive play but weren't able to see much of an edge on the scoreboard with the exception of early in each game. The Lady Waves went on to defeat Corydon Central 25-19, 25-17, 25-14.

"We're going to grow up with the game of volleyball gingerly," Corydon Central coach Kim Briscoe said. "We have one senior leader that is our most experienced returning player. The rest have played minimal varsity, but they are going to play harder ball in, ball out."

The experienced upperclass leader is the captain of sorts on the court. Similar to a point guard in basketball, Corydon Central senior Valerie Crawford is the team's setter. From keeping the team in the right position to playing defense on the front and back row, Crawford has plenty of responsibility. For the youthful Lady Panthers, her experience of playing varsity volleyball for a couple of years is valuable.

"She's doing things she hasn't done before," Briscoe said. "She's become more vocal and trying to teach the youngsters to play. She's playing better defense than she ever has, and I saw that tonight."

Crawford is one of two seniors on the squad, with the other being defensive specialist Shaifer Eastridge.

Against Meade County, the visiting team went on a 6-0 run midway through the opening game to lead 15-4.

Keeping the ball alive, the Lady Panthers rallied back to win 11 of the next 13 points. Among the highlights included an ace each by juniors Montana Brooks, Chelsey Smith and Haley Chambers. The run also saw a dig by Brooks leading to a winner then a solo block by freshman Gracie Paden.

The rally in play brought the Lady Panthers within two points, 17-15. Meade County would grind out the remainder of the game to take the opener.

"Chemistry, we are seeing some good things," Briscoe said. "We have some good freshmen, including an outside hitter that'll be a player. The balance between our lefts and middle is something we'll figure out. I'm playing nine kids right now, a load of juniors and freshmen."

Corydon Central kept the game tighter for the most part in game two. Kills by Paden and Smith early on eventually saw the game tied at 7.

Taking off on a run again, the Lady Wave won seven straight points, aided by a pair of Maggie Millay kills and one by Maranda Scott. The spurt ended with Smith placing a kill on the line.

Corydon Central creeped to within three points, 18-15, when Makenzie Episcopo served an ace. Meade County, however, held its opponent to two points the rest of the way, taking a two-game advantage.

In the third, Corydon Central led 3-1 behind a pair of Smith slams. Meade County then ripped off a run of eight straight to take control and win the third comfortably.

"Give it August, and we'll see better things by September," Briscoe said. "This is the hardest working, most fit team I've coached. They move well, but they don't realize how hard you have to play at the varsity level. It's fast, quick and non-stop. They learned that today."

Briscoe said she's excited about the youth in the program with freshmen taking up spots on the varsity, junior varsity and C-team roster.

"The exciting thing with this season is the young numbers of talent we have, and these kids are fun to be with," she said. "I can't yell at them without laughing. They are great personalities and students. We'll take some lumps, but, once they figure out how hard they have to play, they'll figure it out."

Corydon Central jumps into Mid-Southern Conference action tomorrow (Thursday) when the Lady Panthers host Eastern (Pekin) at 6 p.m.


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