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Lady Panthers win war over North Harrison

It was the kind of volleyball match you would expect you would expect from the powerhouses of North Harrison and Corydon. Emotion, hitting the floor to keep the ball in play, smashing spikes, an occasional surprise play, everything you needed to keep it from being a boring night.
When it was all over, however, the Lady Panthers of Corydon were the ones left standing.
“I expect the unexpected out of Corydon,” said North Harrison coach Beth Burson. “Anytime you get Corydon and North Harrison together it’s hard to know what to expect.”
“North Harrison does some nice things,” Corydon coach Kim Briscoe said. “They’re a scrappy ball club. They don’t have the swingers we have or the blockers we have. But they have heart and they have the desire to get better. That’s what every coach is expecting out of their kids.”
Both teams made early errors in game one then Corydon had the first run as Liz Marshall killed three times while Beth Shireman aced putting the Lady Panthers up 5-1. North Harrison cut their deficit to two then a series of hitting errors allowed Corydon to go back up by six, 10-4.
The Lady Cats then began to fight their way back. Heather Kintner hit into the net then North Harrison got a kill from Andrea Langemaat. Tara Miller later tipped for a point then Corydon made three hitting errors tying the game at ten. Candy Smith killed to put the Lady Cats on top then Corydon erred twice more leaving North Harrison just two points short of a first game win.
But that didn’t happen. Beth Shireman aced on Corydon’s next possession just before Samantha Mathews killed for a point. Candy Smith doubled on a hit then Dana Beaven killed twice giving Corydon game one, 15-13.
“We held our composure on them the first game to come back but then we let up,” said Burson. “We had five points left and then it was like we relaxed.”
“Ultimately you aren’t competing against your opponent,” said Briscoe. “You’re competing about your self improvement as a player. That’s what we’re focusing on right now. What makes me better. Where is my contribution the most needed.”
North Harrison took the quick lead in game two. The Lady Cats went up 5-0 on three Corydon mistakes and blocking kills from Rachel Loughmiller and Candy Smith. Andrea Langemaat killed for a point and the Lady Cat lead was 6-0.
Corydon finally got on the board when North Harrison erred but two more Corydon mistakes put the Lady Cat lead to 8-1. The Lady Cats kept the lead at seven until Beaven killed for a point and Shireman aced cutting the lead to five.
Shireman later cut the lead to four then the teams changed possession seven times before North Harrison scored again. Corydon finally made a three point run as Shireman killed for a point and the Lady Cats made a pair of hitting errors. Shireman later aced again then Maggie Mathes made a miscue as the game tied at twelve.
Again North Harrison came within two points of winning the game as Shireman hit out of bounds. North Harrison hit out of bounds twice and Liz Marshall put down the last ball as the Lady Panthers took the game and match, 15-13.
“It should have been wilder,” said Burson. “I’m not taking anything away from Corydon, they’re a good team, but I really felt like it should have gone three (games). We should have finished that second game but we’ve got to hand it to them. They held their composure even though they were down, and came back and took the lead and control.”
Burson said with the pressure of a conference title on the line her girls may have tried a little too hard in game two.
“There’s a lot of pressure on the girls,” Burson said. “We knew what it meant when Corydon beat Brownstown. We were glad because that gave us a chance to maybe get a tie or even if we came up to beat Brownstown to give us a first, too. We knew this was a big game for us to win. I think there was pressure on them that we just didn’t handle as well.”
Briscoe said her team just stayed focused and showed a lot of character to make the comeback from behind and get the win.
“They tremendously focused,” Briscoe said. “They didn’t get too high or too low. I was the one that got excited when this clipboard hit the floor. About that time I lost it because that same kid had ten errors tonight. It wasn’t her best match. Another senior, it wasn’t her best match.”
“The issue is every night somebody comes out and doesn’t have such a great play. All coaches want every kid on the court, the starters and the kids in the game, to play their best. Some nights your best is your worst. We have to give those kids tremendous credit for the character to come back from 9-2 at one point.”
Both teams did very well on serve as North Harrison missed only three in 56 attempts while Corydon missed just four of 60 attempts. Both teams had numerous hitting errors with North Harrison making 25 mistakes to Corydon’s 30.
Liz Marshall led the hitting honors with eight kills while Dana Beaven punched in seven kills. Beth Shireman hit for six kills but also added four service aces.
“Shireman had a tremendous night,” said Briscoe. “They couldn’t stop her out of the middle. She served the ball effectively. Marshall was unstoppable. I don’t believe they touched one of her balls. That’s just the changes we’ve made from the Brownstown match, Marshall on the outside and Shireman in the middle. Shireman is a little more versatile. Serving, this is the first year the kid has served for us and she has one of the best top spins around and with confidence.”
Candy Smith led the Lady Cats (16-8, 4-1 M.S.C.) with seven kills for the night. Andrea Langemaat hit for 6 kills and Tara Miller followed up with four kills.
“I’m not disappointed in any way with my girls,” Burson said. “I’m very pleased with the way that they played. We did come up with some great plays. I thought Candy played well on the net and she wanted the ball. She came back and was putting them in bounds. Tara just played out of this world. I don’t know how many times it was like Corydon versus Tara. She tipped two or three in a row and it was on the ground. I can’t complain with the effort. I’m just not happy with the outcome.”
Corydon’s coach tried to keep the fire under her team during the let-downs.
“I said over and over again, focus on the pass, one ball on the time,” said Briscoe. “In this game, if you keep your focus, even if you have a bad play, the game will come back to you. But if you dwell on that bad play you’ve lost the game. They’re still learning that.”
Corydon’s record increased to 18-5 and 5-0 in the conference.