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Lady Cats drop two to Providence, NA

North Harrison’s volleyball team squared off against two of the top volleyball programs in Southern Indiana in its first two games of the season last week. Unfortunately, the host Lady Cats weren’t able to overcome either squad.
After putting up a strong fight Monday night against New Albany in a 15-12, 15-12 loss, things unraveled against Providence, 15-7, 15-0, Thursday evening.
“It certainly was not the team that played on Monday,” North Harrison coach Beth Burson said.
North’s effort against Providence looked like the makings of an early-season upset as the hosts jumped to a 5-1 lead. But things came to a screeching halt as the Lady Pioneers stormed back for the win, 15-7.
“It was all mental,” Burson said. “We made some bonehead mistakes compared to Monday. It was in the net, out of bounds. We’d have a great block, then our hands were in the net. Our passing was a big key. The last six points were due to passing errors.”
North had several chances to score in the second game, but couldn’t overcome a slew of hitting errors. Four straight serves by sophomore Juli Pierce of Providence slammed the door for good on the Lady Cats, 15-0.
On serves, North Harrison was 23 of 25 service attempts while Providence missed only four of their 47 attempts. The Lady Cats finished with a total of 31 hitting errors to the Lady Pioneers’ 13. Koetter led Providence with five kills and Diana Zipp added four kills while freshman Tara Miller led the Lady Cats with three kills, with several others just missing a score.
“Tara’s been struggling with her hits, ” Burson said. “That’s why she’s tipping. Her timing is off. She’s a smart player. She’ll be able to handle that.”
In the home opener against New Albany, the Lady Cats were not intimidated, even though the Lady Bulldogs brought some size with their middle hitters at 6-foot, 6-1 and 6-3.
North Harrison took a 3-0 lead before New Albany got on the board on a Lady Cat hitting error. New Albany made three mistakes, and the Lady Cats were on top 5-1.
Savanna Jones got one of those points back on a block and kill, but New Albany was having more of their share of hitting errors as Brianne Casper made two errors for a 7-2 Lady Cat lead. The Lady Bulldogs finally got a couple of hits to go in as a North Harrison hitting mistake pulled New Albany back within two, 7-5.
The two teams traded kills before North Harrison hit out of bounds, allowing New Albany tgo get within one. Andrea Hamblen finally aced on serve to start a 5-0 run as the Lady Bulldogs pulled in front 12-8.
New Albany’s lead went to three, but North Harrison scrapped back as Andrea Langemaat killed for a point and New Albany’s Kayse Kelley hit out of bounds. Both teams had hitting errors keeping the margin at one, but New Albany finally pulled out the first game win with a kill and a bad Lady Cat pass.
“The first game I thought we played well but once they cut into our lead a little bit, we quit attacking the ball,” said Burson. “We passed two if not three free balls over to them, and that took us right out of our offense. I think that was a change in that first game.”
New Albany had 11 hitting errors in game one and missed on four service attempts.
“It was a struggle, but I think North Harrison has got a nice team,” said New Albany coach John Breeding.
“They’re really aggressive. We played sporadic. We passed the ball well on serve reception, but the thing that bothered me the most was our defense wasn’t very good tonight. When we weren’t getting blocks, we weren’t digging balls like we have done in practice. Hopefully, that will come with playing.”
North Harrison took the early lead in game two, but this time New Albany didn’t take as long to get back in the game. The Lady Cats led 3-2 until they erred twice allowing New Albany a 4-3 lead. The Lady Bulldog momentum continued with a three-point burst with two kills for a 7-3 lead.
Langemaat had kills to later fall in for points, and Kayse Kelley hit out of bounds as North Harrison cut the Providence advantage back to one, 7-6. Tara Miller tied it at 7 with a block and later killed for an 8-7 Lady Cat advantage.
North Harrison got caught looking as New Albany tied the game at eight, but the Lady Cats watched New Albany make two mistakes for a 10-8 North Harrison edge. The Lady Cats held the lead until New Albany fired back with a three-point burst to lead by one, 12-11. North Harrison got one more point when Anne Bitzegaio hit out of bounds, but New Albany controlled from there going on to win, 15-12.
Burson was not that displeased with her team’s play against a much bigger opponent.
“They weren’t intimidated and, in fact, sometimes we had two or three people going after the ball,” said Burson. “Nobody was willing to back off. But I would rather them be that way than letting it fall to the floor looking at each other.”
Langemaat led the Lady Cats with six kills while Miller and Candy Smith had five kills each.
“(Assistant coach) Tonya (Webb) and I both have talked about how often does Breeding come into our gym and have to call a couple of timeouts and get on his girls. He’s not normally done that in the past. I think we gave them a run for their money,” Burson said.
“I told them in the huddle we need to use this game as a stepping stone, to go up and improve on the things we’ve been working on, our passing and our sets on the net, defensively know where we’re supposed to be. If we can continue how we started this year, we maybe able to surprise some people. We’ve got a good season ahead of us.”
Wade Bell of The Clarion News also contributed to this story.

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