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NH dismantles Lady Panthers in Dig Pink

Before the volleyball match between host North Harrison and Corydon Central last Tuesday night, members of both teams took to the floor and held hands as they remembered those who had been affected by breast cancer, with members of both squads wearing pink for the Dig Pink Classic.
When it came to game time, however, the North Harrison Lady Cats were all business as they put away the Lady Panthers in three straight games in a Mid-Southern Conference matchup.
‘I’m happier with tonight because they didn’t come out in game three and get in a hole,’ North Harrison coach Caitlyn Janes said. ‘We have the past few games. We’ve lost game three and let it slip. They came out and they worked hard and they hustled. That makes me happy, as long as we continue to improve on that.’
‘We did some nice things, then we got stuck in that five sophomores against the seniors rotation, and that’s just kind of how it happens,’ Corydon Central coach Kim Briscoe said. ‘We tried a few things. We’re protecting some kids in situations with injuries.’
The Lady Cats came out swinging and pounded their way to a 12-4 lead, with Carlie Burson ripping four kills and Abby Book delivering a pair of service aces. Corydon Central found its way back into the game when it made a 7-1 run to close to within one at 13-12. The Lady Panthers made two errors, then North Harrison got three straight kills from Book and Burson, as the Lady Cats’ advantage jumped to six, 21-15. From there, North Harrison controlled to win the game 25-17.
Janes said her main concern before the match was senior Brittany Rudolph, who sat out most of the Lady Cats’ match with Scottsburg the night before with an injured ankle. Rudolph had her ankle tightly taped before the match and was determined to play her last match against the Lady Panthers.
‘I was concerned about Brittany because Brittany went down in set two, so I knew she wanted to come back and play tonight,’ Janes said. ‘I thought that she could. I was worried for her because I didn’t want her to hurt herself more. I really think we’ve been playing a lot of long stretches that have gotten us ready. I think our schedule has set us up good for that, so that we’re ready for that type of situation going into sectional.’
Briscoe’s team also has been dealing with injuries as well as other problems.
‘We’ve had eight injuries this season,’ she said. ‘We’ve got everybody back except one kid who’s got to get 10 practices before she can get back, and I suspended two … That’s the moral of my experience for 2015. My volleyball experience has been we have to create a new lineup every time we come out, because somebody’s hurt or somebody’s made a bad decision. We just now had the bad-decision part.’
The Lady Cats scored the opening point of game two with a Mackenzie O’Connor service ace. Corydon Central came back to lead through the next eight sideouts until it made two hitting errors to allow North Harrison back in front. The Lady Cats followed that with four straight points to lead 10-5, with Book sending in two more aces.
Moments later, North Harrison made a 9-0 run to lead 19-6. Corydon Central scored just a single point after that, and the Lady Cats got the 25-7 win.
‘We were (on) except for about a five-point stretch in that second game,’ Janes said. ‘Other than that, our defense was on, which helps our offense.’
‘I’ve been spending more time teaching kids to grow up than teaching volleyball this year, and healing people and injuries,’ Briscoe said. ‘It would be nice to be healthy, but we’re not right yet. Hopefully, October will be better than September.’
Corydon Central scored the first point of game three, but North Harrison countered with four straight, with Book delivering two more aces. Corydon Central still kept it close for the first few points, down one at 4-3. The Lady Cats then delivered the backbreaker with a 6-1 burst.
Following a kill by Corydon Central’s Maddie Fessel, North Harrison ran off its biggest run of the night with 11 unanswered points for a 22-6 advantage. The Lady Panthers never recovered as the Lady Cats went on for the 25-7 win and the sweep.
‘The past two game threes we’ve let it slip,’ Janes said. ‘It’s like we expect to win and then we don’t hustle as much as we did in game one and game two. If you tell them to not let a ball drop, it seems like we get more hustle out of them.’
‘It’s really frustrating for these seniors that I have,’ Briscoe said. ‘Chelsey Smith has really turned her game on. Makenzie Episcopo has turned her game on. Montana (Brooks) is doing a better job learning. Then, you’ve got young sophomores playing around them because two of your starters are sitting on the bench now for nine games.’
Burson finished the match with 10 kills, two aces on serve and 19 digs. Book had seven aces, 22 assists and two kills. Taylor Rennirt hit for five kills and 13 digs, while Rudolph punched in four kills. The Lady Cats delivered 12 aces for the night, missed five serves and had 13 errors.
‘You don’t expect it out of Abby, and I think that’s what gets a lot of teams about her serve,’ Janes said. ‘It’s not hard, but it’s difficult to read. She had some long runs for us tonight, so that was good.’
The Lady Cats’ coach also said she needs to have her hitters on. The night before it was Rennirt, and this time Burson picked up her game.
‘I need one of those two to be on every single game,’ Janes said. ‘If we have both of them on, that’s even better. Carlie did a great job. Even though the front row wasn’t necessarily working for her that third game, her hustle saved us so many times. It does a lot of times. She’s one of those players who can find plays to make even when she’s not having a good game.’
‘It’s hard to look at (Rennirt) as a sophomore,’ she said. ‘Any girl that steps on the floor, to me, they are all at the level of senior play. I expect that out of each and every one of them. I think the girls treat Taylor that way, too. They treat her as a leader and as someone who is going to play like a senior with them.’
‘They’ve got some nice outside swingers,’ Briscoe said of North Harrison. ‘I didn’t think they attacked very well from any other place. We did a nice job blocking at times for the youth that we had.’
Brooks led Corydon Central with three kills. The Lady Panthers missed six serves, delivered two aces and had 27 errors.