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Crawford rallies to sweep Lady Cats

Crawford rallies to sweep Lady Cats
Crawford rallies to sweep Lady Cats
North Harrison’s Molly Coomer (2) and Kira England cover the ball against Crawford County as North Harrison coach Caitlyn Burson looks on from behind. Photo by Wade Bell
Wade Bell, Sports Writer

It took three big rallies for the Crawford County Lady Pack volleyball team to sweep host North Harrison in three games Thursday night. Crawford County struggled at the beginning of all three sets, getting down by as many as six to eight points at times, but then turned things around to take home its second win of the season.

“I don’t know what it is having a slow start,” said Crawford County coach Julie Adams. “I don’t know if they just want the game to last a little bit longer or what it is. Going into game three I said, ‘Start strong. Don’t start in a hole. We don’t want to have to battle back.’ We did. We have to minimize our errors there at the beginning because we’re going to play a lot of teams that aren’t going to let us back in.”

While Adams was trying to figure out how to get a better start, North Harrison coach Caitlyn Burson has had to figure out how to keep a lead.

“I don’t know if it’s an issue of getting comfortable or getting tired, but we’re going to have to figure it out,” she said. “We never really connect on getting our serve-receive on at the same time and our hitting on at the same time. If one was on, the other was off and that allowed them to create a lot of runs that didn’t help us when we had a lead.”

The Lady Cats wasted no time getting out in front in the first game and raced out to a 9-3 lead following a kill by Morgan Friedholdt. Crawford County followed with four straight kills to close the game to two. North Harrison fought to maintain the advantage through the next few points, but a hitting error followed by a kill by Crawford County’s Sarah Stutzman pulled the Lady Pack back to tie at 14. Moments later, North Harrison made four straight errors, and the Lady Cats called timeout, down 19-16. Following the break, Crawford County got four kills and the Lady Cats erred twice in a 6-0 run for a 25-16 win.

“We’re starting off timid,” said Adams. “I don’t know why we’re so scared. I know it’s just game two of the season, but we’re not overly confident in hitting just yet. We know where our tipping spots are, and we’re utilizing that. But, Treasure (Nickelson) came alive in games two and three, and she was a big help for us.”

Game two started out the same way with Crawford County again getting down 9-3 early. Stutzman gave Crawford County two of those points back with kills, then the Lady Cats committed three more errors, the gap closing to two. North Harrison played a stronger middle part of the set, pushing its advantage back to five, 16-11, following a service ace by Molly Coomer.

The Lady Cats, however, followed with another hitting error. Stutzman then slapped in three kills, and North Harrison hit short, tying the game at 16. Emma Schneider tipped to put the Lady Cats in the lead, which they held on to until they committed another hitting error, giving Crawford County a 24-23 edge. Crawford County hit out of bounds on its next sideout, but North Harrison did the same on the next possession. Friedholdt tied the game at 25. The Lady Cats hit out again. Stutzman killed on the next play, and Crawford County had game two, 27-25.

“I’d like to get more out of both of my middles, and it’s not that I want more out of them as individuals,” Burson said. “It’s that I want more out of my serve-receive so that we can run an offense out of our middle because right now we’re running it out of the back row on serve-receive. That takes your middle out of it completely.”

North Harrison went on a killing spree to begin game three for a 4-0 lead. The Lady Cats erred on their next sideout but scored the next three to lead 7-1. Two more North Harrison errors followed, then Crawford County made two mistakes. Friedholt killed to score, and the Lady Cats’ advantage went to seven, 10-3.

Crawford County’s first rally came on four straight points, closing the gap to two, 10-8. North Harrison later went on a rage for six straight points, increasing its advantage to 17-9. Crawford County rallied again to close the gap to two following kills by Nickelson and Desirae Puckett. It looked like the Lady Cats were going to hold on to the game, pounding in three straight kills to again lead by five.

In a long volley on the next sideout, North Harrison gave up a point when Bri Fawver hit out. Crawford County scored the next six points, three of those on kills by Stutzman, giving the Lady Pack a 24-22 edge. Crawford County hit out of bounds on the next play. Stutzman put the game and match away on the next sideout with a kill for the 25-23 win.

“I wasn’t sure how with this COVID and getting into the gym, our practices have been kind of weird,” Adams said. “We’ve had a lot of girls coming out but didn’t have a lot of gym space with the stage set up and that kind of stuff. Until we start utilizing that space, we’re not really able to. But, I think with what we have we’re doing all right.”

“The one biggest thing that we talked about in the locker room is that they worked harder than us for 25 points in every single game,” said Burson. “That’s not uncommon. They’re always going to do that, and that’s something we expect more out of our girls that we don’t get enough of. They hustled, and we had some really nice hustle plays tonight that we didn’t get the other night (against New Albany), but we didn’t give us 25 points every single point of the match, and Crawford gave that every single point in all three sets.”

Stutzman led the Lady Pack with 16 kills, and Autumn Schigur followed with six kills. Nickelson and Taylor Herbaugh tallied up four kills each. Crawford County missed just two serves but had no aces on serve. The Lady Pack had 27 errors.

“I think a lot of it is just that momentum change,” Adams said. “It really helps us a lot. Our blockers, they were huge blockers tonight. Both Sarah and Treasure had huge blocks. That helped us a lot. Our big thing, too, was just playing smart. It’s only our second game, but we need to start now. We need to be smart and make other teams make the errors.”

Friedholdt led North Harrison with eight kills followed by Fawver, Mattie Liebert and Andrea Ness, who got five kills each. The Lady Cats missed four serves and delivered eight service aces but had 37 errors for the three games.

“I think it’s confidence,” Burson said. “We have players that are willing to hustle. I think it’s confidence and ownership and just wanting that ball to be yours and being willing to make a mistake because you want the ball in your hands. We don’t have enough people that want the ball in their hands and aren’t willing to make a mistake because they’re trying. For right now, we’re going to get back in it and keep grinding and working harder.”