Crawford rolls over Lady Cats
Wade Bell, Sports Writer
After the Crawford County girls’ volleyball team lost its season opener to Northeast Dubois last Tuesday, the Lady Pack regrouped on Wednesday then came back to face rival North Harrison on Thursday. The Lady Cats, who had several players out due to injuries and COVID-19 quarantines found themselves moving players to different positions they hadn’t played. North Harrison failed to find a rhythm, and Crawford County rolled to a sweep in three straight games.
“It was a rough start to the season, and we came out today,” said Crawford County coach Julie Adams. “It’s always a good night to beat North Harrison. That was a good team.”
“We beat ourselves tonight,” said North Harrison coach Caitlyn Burson. “We didn’t put ball three in enough. We gave them way too many long serving runs that just killed any momentum that we did have. We really struggled to get anywhere and chip anything away because we were always giving them too many points after the pass.”
The two teams traded points through the opening volleys, then Sarah Stutzman delivered a service ace and Camryn Fraze punched a kill for a 6-4 edge. Moments later, the Lady Pack’s lead ballooned to 11-5 following a kill by Emily Kerce and two Fraze service aces.
North Harrison finally made a run for six straight points, with Sydney Smith delivering a service ace for an 11-11 tie. North Harrison called a quick timeout, and Crawford County hit out of bounds, allowing the Lady Cats to go up by one. Crawford County later responded with a five-point burst to again lead by five. From there, the Lady Pack went on to a 25-18 win.
“It was more frustration for them, for my kids, because they’ve had a different lineup every single day,” Burson said. “We’ve had different kids quarantined every day this week. Their lineup changed today at fifth period. They didn’t even know it.”
“I think what happened for us tonight was we were able to click with our passing and able to utilize our hitters, which we haven’t been doing,” Adams said. “Our hitters were smart and had placement where they needed to be, but I think our blockers were on it tonight. Both of those were great aspects to have.”
Game two was tighter with Crawford County leading by just one, 12-11, midway through the set after the Lady Pack committed two hitting errors. Kylie Rickenbaugh then punched in a Crawford County kill and North Harrison made three errors, allowing a 16-11 Crawford edge. North Harrison failed to get any footing through the remainder of the game, and the Lady Pack got the second-game win 25-19.
“We haven’t been able to build any consistency because of the change every day,” said Burson. “Then we had to change it three times tonight to try to fix gaps here or there. When you’re changing it that much, it’s just really hard to find a rhythm.”
“One thing I know we’ve had in the past, we’d go on a run, make an error then go into a big slump,” Adams said. “The other team would go on a run on us and that’s one thing I kept telling them, ‘They get one serve.’ There were a couple of servers that got more than one serve but, overall, that was one serve and we’d get it right back.”
Game three was more of the same with the Lady Pack and Lady Cats again firing points back and forth at each other. North Harrison got up by three, 8-5, when Crawford County missed on serve. The Lady Cats then faltered with three hitting mistakes for an 8-8 tie. The lead shifted back and forth twice, then Madyson Sturgeon drilled an ace to start a 6-0 run for an 18-12 advantage. The Lady Cats had one more rally in them to close within one, 19-18. In the end, Crawford County came out on top, 25-20, to win in straight sets.
“They did well,” Adams said of her team. “That timeout that I called there towards the end, we were still up but they were like, ‘No, no, we’re fine.’ I just wanted them to miss their serve. I just called it to break their serve. They’re a good group of girls. They’ve got good heads on them.”
“There just wasn’t enough time to practice what they needed to so the communication wasn’t there and the teamwork wasn’t there and it’s not allowing us to click,” Burson said. “It’s early, but it’s so frustrating because this is an important time to build a foundation for rest of the year.”
Stutzman had a big night for the Lady Pack with 15 kills and three service aces. Kerce finished with five kills for Crawford County, which missed six serves but delivered nine service aces. The Lady Pack had 27 errors for the night.
“I like it too that we’re able to read the court,” Adams said. “That’s one thing that our girls do do, read the court and know spots are open and know where to go, playing smart. That’s one of our goals for this season.”
Bri Fawver led the Lady Cats with seven kills and three service aces, and Smith followed with four kills and two aces. North Harrison missed six serves, had five aces and had 34 errors for the three games.
“We talked a lot about trying to get out five-balls and our nine-balls out toward the antenna more because we weren’t moving the block very much,” said Burson. “We were allowing them to set where they started. We weren’t making them move in order to find gaps in the defense.”
Burson also wants to get her team back to health.
“I have full confidence in every single kid who was on the floor tonight,” she said. “I just need time to build consistency and build structure. Every kid that’s on my roster, I know they can do their job but, when their job changes from day to day, that makes it harder for them.”
Crawford County has two strong opponents this week in Christian Academy of Indiana and Springs Valley and hopes the momentum will carry over.
“Monday we play Christian Academy, one of our toughest competitors, and then we play Springs Valley (on Tuesday),” Adams said. “So one, it’s good momentum going into next week, and, two, it’s hopefully getting that confidence built up in the girls from their blocking, from their hitting and knowing they have decent spots. We had quite a bit of balls that were dug up where we were covering. So all around, it was big momentum and, hopefully, a good booster going into next week.”