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5-setter goes to Lady Cats

5-setter goes to Lady Cats
5-setter goes to Lady Cats
North Harrison's Lily Hatton, left, and Taylor Rennirt stop a spike attempt by Crawford County's Sammy Stutzman in game one of the Lady Cats' 3-2 win. Photo by Wade Bell

The North Harrison Lady Cats and the Crawford County Lady Pack volleyball teams went through a five-game slugfest Thursday night in Ramsey before the Lady Cats were finally able to squeak out a 3-2 win. While there were numerous errors on both sides of the net, both teams left everything on the floor in the extended match.
‘I think they were pumped up and ready to go,’ North Harrison coach Caitlyn Janes said. ‘They felt like they needed to show that they were better than what they were. On Monday against New Albany, they didn’t feel like they played very well. They were pumped up and ready to go, but then we just flat-lined. We just came down from our high.’
‘We’ve really worked on communication,’ Crawford County coach Tanya Roser said of her team. ‘We didn’t have a good first showing against Dubois, but we’ve got some inexperience. We’ve got a setter who hasn’t set since junior high. We’ve got a couple of players that have come back after sitting out a few years, and we played some sophomores. We’ve got a lot of inexperience, but they really work hard. They do everything that I ask, and I felt like they played as hard as they could play tonight.’
Crawford County led in the early going of game one, but the Lady Cats were keeping it tight, and North Harrison took a brief lead following a tip by Taylor Rennirt. North Harrison followed with two hitting errors, putting the Lady Pack back in front. That lasted until Crawford County misfired twice and North Harrison took a 13-12 edge. The Lady Cats went on to control from that point on, getting a 25-16 win.
Crawford County scored the first point of game two, but North Harrison responded and went back in front. The Lady Pack suffered through six straight hitting errors, the Lady Cats taking a 10-4 advantage. North Harrison then went through several minutes of errors, allowing Crawford County back in the game.
Later, Sammy Stutzman blocked for a kill, then the Lady Cats erred twice, putting Crawford County in front by one.
Following another tie at 15, North Harrison put a shot in the net, then Stutzman killed again. Rennirt hit into the net, then North Harrison stepped over the line, putting the Lady Pack in front by four, 19-15.
Crawford County later went up by five when the Lady Cats hit out of bounds. North Harrison, however, still had another burst in it and made a 5-0 run, with Alaina Sears drilling a pair of service aces for a 23-all tie.
North Harrison then got called for a double-hit, but Lilly Hatton followed with a tip to score. The Lady Cats misfired on the next side-out, and Jenny Jellison tipped for the Crawford County 26-24 win.
‘I was really happy,’ Roser said. ‘We got in the right spots when we needed to be. Sometimes we still get confused, but we will get better as the season goes on. All I can ask of them is to play hard and to listen to us and be coachable, and they did all that tonight. I was really proud of them.’
‘It’s not like basketball, where you win one game and you’re done,’ Janes said. ‘You win one game and then you’ve got to win two more. I don’t think we’ve quite put that together yet, to be able to come back and keep our momentum from a win, to get it again on the next side.’
Game three was another rumble, with neither team leading by more than three points until the end, when the Lady Cats had a run for a 25-20 win.
Crawford County had a better game four, at one point leading 24-17. The Lady Cats made a power surge at the end of the game, closing to within two, 24-22. North Harrison, however, erred on serve, and Crawford County got the 25-22 win.
‘I think that was a little bit of inexperience on our side, too, because we only have three returning players of all the ones that I played,’ Janes said. ‘We’ve got some older kids, but they haven’t played since eighth grade. I think that’s taking your momentum and channeling it.’
‘Volleyball is a big game of momentum,’ Roser said. ‘If you can catch it, you try to hang on to it. We just tried to focus on the positive things and what we were doing well. Then, each time we tried to improve one thing. ‘We’re doing this well now; let’s try to get our serves in. Now that we’re getting our serves in, let’s try to pick up the tips.’ We try to not just bombard them because they are so young and inexperienced.’
North Harrison got on top to start game five, 3-0, but the Lady Pack fought back to close the game back to 4-3. The Lady Cats scored the next three points to lead by four. Covele later killed, keeping Crawford County within three at 8-5. From there, however, it was all North Harrison, as the Lady Cats went on to get the game and match win, 15-6.
‘We finally started with the first point,’ Janes said. ‘I don’t think we started with the first point in any of the other four sets. I also rotated my lineup around. That gave me a server that had been hitting spots all night and doing a pretty good job for us.’
‘We talked about communicating more, hustling on defense and getting your serves in,’ she said. ‘We missed way too many serves tonight. If you can’t keep your serves, you can’t make a run. So, that was really difficult for us.’
‘Our veteran players are playing positions they don’t normally play,’ Roser said. ‘So, we try to focus on fundamentals and then just build a little bit each time. Really, playing as a team we try to explain to them the best team doesn’t always win. Sometimes it’s the team that plays the hardest, and that’s all we’re asking them to do, is play hard, and they really did.’
Hatton led the Lady Cats with 14 kills and eight blocks, and Rennirt followed with 11. Emma Nokes had 10 kills and seven blocks, and Keila Bennett had nine kills for the five-game match. Sears had 18 digs for North Harrison, which, as a team, missed 15 serves, had nine aces and committed 43 errors for the match.
‘She’s come a long way from where she was last year,’ Janes said of Hatton. ‘She’s in much more control of her body, and she’s more aware of the court. She’s always been coordinated in basketball, but volleyball is a whole different species, and she’s getting the hang of it.’
‘She definitely doesn’t take the role of a sophomore, and that is good,’ she said. ‘I want them to all be there for each other, because at some point they’re all going to need that from one another. So, that’s good that she has taken on that spot, and I think it makes her more positive, too.’
Janes also had praise for Nokes and Bennett.
‘(Nokes) has not played since eighth grade, her or Cali Nolot neither one have played since eighth grade,’ she said. ‘(Nokes) had some big blocks for us and had some big kills, so that was really good for us to have. Taylor (Rennirt) really had some awesome kills when we needed them tonight, too.’
‘(Bennett) had been consistently making a run, at least two or three points all night long,’ Janes said. ‘So, I was hoping that putting her in that first position so that I can get that early rather than four or five rotations in.’
Stutzman led Crawford County with 15 kills, and Brooklyn Smith followed with seven. Jellison added five kills for the Lady Pack, who missed four serves, had three aces and tallied 44 errors.
‘She is very intense, and we love that about her and we feed off that,’ Roser said of Stutzman. ‘I think her attitude becomes infectious to the rest of the team. That’s what a senior should do for you. A senior should be a leader like that. Some people lead by example. Some people are the vocal cheerleader. She really does a good job of lifting spirits and staying positive. She’s so excited that it’s hard for anybody else not to be. It’s contagious.
‘She did a great job. This is her last time against North Harrison, and, as a senior, she really wanted to win, and she was ready to step up when we needed her to. She wasn’t ashamed to swing against blockers a lot bigger than she is and had some success, and I think that shows some of the other kids, ‘I can swing, too’.’
Both coaches said there was a lot learned in the match.
‘I’d rather not go five sets,’ Janes said. ‘We have to work on our serve. Our serve-receive looked much better tonight than it was against New Albany. So, if we can take that and put that together with our serve and just start getting things clicking, we’ll be OK.’