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Jersey-clad Eagles outlast South in 5

Jersey-clad Eagles outlast South in 5
Jersey-clad Eagles outlast South in 5
Lanesville's Lindsey Ash raises her arms when the Lady Eagles won a point during the first of five sets last Tuesday versus rival South Central. Photo by Brian Smith

Lanesville coach Pamela Tobbe gave Sarina Belden one request upon approaching the scorer’s table for the coin flip prior to the start of game five versus rival South Central last Tuesday: give up the opportunity to serve first if Belden won the toss.
The Lady Eagles wanted the bench to the west, across from the rowdy Lanesville student section. Dressed in jerseys of all types ‘ NBA, NFL, MLB and college teams ‘ the students brought the noise.
Playing in front of the home fans, Lanesville pulled out a five-set victory over South Central, 25-22, 21-25, 25-21, 22-25, 15-13.
‘The girls play better when there is a lot of noise,’ Tobbe said. ‘It helps clear their heads and lets the crowd fuel them. It was good to get a (Southern Athletic) Conference win.’
Three swing errors by Lanesville to close out a game-four loss sent momentum to South Central.
With a short memory, the Lady Eagles rolled to a 3-0 lead to open the fifth, featuring a kill in the middle by Beth Combs.
Lanesville never gave up the lead in the final game but had to deal with three ties. For both teams, some of the best volleyball came late.
Jenna Baelz threw in an ace for South Central, then Noelle Miller later tipped a winner for an even score at 3.
A series of South Central miscues allowed Lanesville to push back out in front. Once Kelsey Richmer put down a winner for an 8-5 Lady Eagles’ lead, South Central coach Amanda Haag signaled for a time-out.
The move worked as South Central won four of the next five points. A Kendall Miller block then a series of digs by Noelle Miller and Sydney Lewis on a long rally finally ended with Kaitlyn Harl smashing a winner. Baelz also added a kill off the hands of Lanesville’s Abby Duncan.
‘It’s the ‘don’t give up spirit’ I liked,’ Haag said. ‘It’s something we’ve fought. Against Clarksville, our first game, they just gave up. Their heads weren’t in the game. From that first game to today, we are seeing an improvement in that area.’
Tied at 10-all, Lanesville started to get going again. Feeding the middle, Combs put down a winner. Back at the service line, Belden placed back-to-back aces for a 13-11 Lanesville edge.
Holding a 14-11 lead after a South Central service error, the Lady Rebels won two straight points. The third match point, however, was a back-and-forth battle. In a scramble for the ball near the net, Combs found an open spot on the South Central side for the winning kill.
Soon, the jerseys from the crowd locked arms with the Lanesville players to celebrate the victory.
‘The chemistry on this team is ridiculous,’ Tobbe said. ‘In my years coaching here, this has been the one team that clicks. They push each other. It’s a different team this year, and I’m really proud of them. They have a bad habit letting teams back in, but, those clutch plays, we were able to pull things out.’
Adversity has hit the South Central program in the first part of the season. Senior Jordan Renn and sophomore Kaylee Logsdon have missed action due to injuries. Senior setter Lexie Knear sat out the first week of matches due to an injury and was expected back versus Lanesville. However, Knear rolled an ankle during warm-ups and was restricted to the sidelines.
‘Our senior setter twisted her ankle in warm-ups, so we had to adjust, again,’ Haag said. ‘One of my back-row players (Mahaily Scott) is having back issues, so she had to come out too. So, considering still playing without Jordan (Renn) and Kaylee Logsdon, making it four varsity players hurt, I’m not mad. We are looking to get healthy. It was a good showing.’
Alyssa Pumphrey gave South Central a quick start in game one, serving a pair of aces. The 5-1 Lady Rebels’ lead quickly disappeared when Lanesville ripped off eight straight points. Lindsey Ash, Abby Duncan, Richmer and Belden got into the action, eventually pushing the lead to 11-7.
South Central was able to go ahead by one point midway through game one, but Lanesville used winners from the outside by Ash to go up five, 20-15, eventually carrying steady defensive play to a win.
Game two saw the scoreboard tied 11 times between the rivals. Ally Davis planted a kill to separate the teams on the scoreboard for the final time and a 18-17 South Central lead. Aggressive play by the Lady Rebels ‘ a solo block by Pumphrey, kills by Baelz and Davis then an ace from Pumphrey ‘ allowed South Central to pull away.
‘They are coming together, but we are still working on our rotation,’ Haag said. ‘With girls hurt, we are working on the rotation that works best and getting the communication we need on the floor … I’m very optimistic about the season. This was a good showing for us. We know what we have deep down. I know that spirit to not give up is in there.’
South Central started game three like gangbusters, holding a five-point lead at one point. Fighting back, Lanesville’s Duncan served two aces to bring her team ahead 17-16. Duncan, the Lady Eagles’ libero, was a key to the game, handling several tough passes.
‘Abby Duncan was killing it tonight,’ Tobbe said. ‘Our defense was good all around. Serve-receive was hurting us at times, but we got it together. South Central has two girls with freakishly awesome top-spin serves. My girls can pass top spin, but it took time to adjust.’
Down two, 21-19, game three saw Lanesville win the final six points. Savannah Miller got up for a kill and a block from the middle position during the spurt.
‘Our middles play smart,’ Tobbe said. ‘They can place the ball. Normally, they are the ones most reliable. When we are struggling, we can tell our setters to go there … Blocking, because South had so many big hitters, we weren’t getting solid blocks. We could get touches, but our timing is a little bit off.’
Game four featured Lanesville winning 11 of 14 points during one stretch of play for a 13-8 lead.
South Central setter Annabelle Faith, going to Baelz and Davis, took charge. The comeback pressed the Lady Rebels up 22-18. Lanesville tied the game again at 22, but South Central took the final three points to force a fifth.
‘The games we lost, our communication broke down at certain points,’ Tobbe said. ‘We have to continue to talk front row to back, back row to front, having a productive and purposeful conversation on the court. You can’t just say, ‘That’s yours.’ That doesn’t cut it.’
In the final game, Lanesville won the rather even battle.
‘The girls played great,’ Tobbe said. ‘I have a lot of lower classmen ‘ Savannah Miller, Abby Duncan, Sarina Belden and threw Meredith Hasken in there too ‘ they stepped up.’
For South Central, Haag is hoping the injuries will soon be behind her team.
‘It’s a devastating loss, but I truly believe all the injuries are for a purpose and making us grow as a team,’ the first-year coach said. ‘It’s heartbreaking too. Lexie wants to be out here. Jordan got her cast off yesterday, so she’s hoping to be back soon. It’s a disappointing start, but we will get there. Our goal is October and sectional.’