Aces power Lady Eagles
Brian Smith, Sports Editor, [email protected]
Lanesville found a groove at the service line last Tuesday against rival South Central.
In four games, the Lady Eagles tallied 18 aces, paced by eight via Sarina Belden, to pave the way to a Southern Athletic Conference victory. Lanesville saw South Central pick off game two but went on to bounce back for a four-set win, 25-15, 18-25, 25-14, 25-16.
“We’ve been working on our serving a lot,” Lanesville coach Adam Belden said. “As long as they keep it under control and in, there is a lot of power behind some of our servers. It can be tough on passers.”
The Lady Eagles used power at the net in the early going to establish a lead in game one. Meredith Hasken was hot from the outside, putting down a pair of early spikes. A winner by Savanah Miller pushed Lanesville up 7-3.
South Central showed some fight, getting on track with a Kendall Kiper smack. Kaitlyn Harl followed with a winner, then a series of digs by Alyssa Pumphrey and Kiper helped South Central even the score at 13.
After a South Central service error, Lanesville’s Linzie Wernert got up for a winning block. Near the net, setter Sarina Belden spotted an open spot to tip over a point. An Abby Duncan ace then led to a South Central time out. The break didn’t rattle Duncan, who put in back-to-back aces upon her return to the line. Lanesville closed out the opening game with a monster kill from Hasken via the left side.
“Meredith got really hot,” Adam Belden said. “We have to get used to making quick adjustments. Sometimes you can’t take a full swing or adjust to a blocker. It’s a matter of making adjustments. I tell our back row that they have to talk. They have to let you know what’s open or how many blockers are there.”
Game one showed the ups and downs of South Central’s play.
“We had really ugly pockets of play then some really fantastic pockets of play,” South Central coach Amanda Sims said. “It was eye-opening for things we need to work on. During practice, we need to take some things serious. We’ve worked and worked on receiving, but it still comes down to moving our feet. It’s something we’ve struggled with. We’re letting the ball control us instead of us controlling the ball.”
One of the fantastic pockets came during a 14-3 spurt after trailing 6-1 in game two. Down five, Kaylee Logsdon got the rally going with a winner. Lanesville had several miscues in a row, allowing South Central to even the score. The Lady Rebels took the lead on a Pumphrey kill followed by one via Kendall Miller.
An ace by Logsdon along with a spike by Kiper put South Central up 15-9. Lanesville reeled off six consecutive points to get back into the contest, thanks to a Chloe Roadcap ace and quality digs from Duncan leading to a Hasken kill.
South Central seized control late when the Lady Eagles lost form with multiple side-outs to take game two.
“We did some really good things,” Sims said. “I thought we placed the ball well. We talk about if we can’t take a full swing, then hit that setter. I saw that several times. We are getting to where we need to be, but it’s only our second match.”
“The first game, we came out strong, then we were flat in the second,” The Lady Eagles’ coach said. “We knew South would play us tough, and they did. I figured it would be a tight match. Hats off to South; they played well.”
Lanesville had to fend off its rivals in game three as well. An ace by Pumphrey put the road team up two, 8-6. Miller, who had six kills for the match, put in two to bring the lead back to Lanesville.
The offense started to click for Lanesville the second part of game three. Sarina Belden found Wernert for kills. Staying aggressive at the service line, Belden and Roadcap put in aces. Wernert closed the third game with a winning block.
“Savannah has been serving for us more this year,” Adam Belden said. “We’ve worked Linzie in to serve too. Throwing Jill (Kaufman) and Meredith in there with our top servers, I feel like we are pretty strong there. If an opponent doesn’t handle that first ball well, it’s hard for them to recover.”
Lanesville, which moved to 4-1 with the victory, recored five consecutive aces with the serve of Sarina Belden for a 6-0 lead. The start was more than enough to put away the match. Coach Belden also lauded the passing of Roadcap and Duncan during the course of the game.
“I’ve been giving MVPs away every game, and tonight we gave it to Chloe on the left,” he said. “She got a lot of digs with Abby back there.”
Sarina Belden stuffed the stat sheet with six kills and digs to go with her eight aces. Hasken closed with five kills, while Alley Roadcap had four. Wernert contributed six kills and a pair of aces.
South Central’s offense was led by Miller’s five kills and three blocks. Four kills each were credited to Logsdon and Pumphrey.
Sims said she thought setter Brooklyn Lewis made a positive step forward in the team’s second contest.
“We had some great moments too, like when (Lewis) went up to block the ball at the net. That’s fantastic,” she said. “I’m impressed with how she’s beginning to understand the transition of playing the front row from the back row.”
Some tinkering with the rotation may be on the horizon for the Lady Rebels as well. Miller was inserted into the lineup after missing the opening match.
“I will try a few different things,” Sims said. “We will make some rotation changes to make us stronger. We will continue to work on serve-receiving. We beat ourselves at times tonight.”
It was an energetic atmosphere as well, which Lanesville fed off of most of the night.
“I was glad we had some students show up,” Adam Belden said. “There was a tennis match and a cross-country meet tonight, but our students came out and got excited. I like that support for the girls.”