Lady Panthers break slump in four sets
Brandon Miniard, Sports Writer, [email protected]
When Corydon Central and Lanesville’s volleyball teams squared off in Corydon last Tuesday, both squads were looking to right the ship after up-and-down starts to their seasons.
The Lady Panthers started the season on a hot note, winning their first three matches, including victories over Mid-Southern Conference rivals Charlestown and Eastern (Pekin). The 3-0 start was muddied after the Lady Panthers dropped their next four, including three straight losses in a round-robin tournament at Vincennes against North Posey, Castle and Evansville Mater Dei on Aug. 28.
The Lady Eagles have suffered from a similar turn of misfortune. After winning three of their first four matches to begin the season, Adam Belden’s squad proceeded to drop four of its next five, including a gut-wrenching loss in its Southern Athletic Conference opener against rival Borden in five sets. The Lady Eagles’ only win during this rough patch was a 2-1 victory over Austin to close out the River City Invitational in New Albany on Aug. 28.
In a battle of slumping squads, it was the Lady Panthers who rose from their funk after battling the Lady Eagles through four sets (25-17, 13-25, 25-20, 25-12).
“We knew that we wanted to get out on top early,” Lady Panthers’ head coach Chrissy Tuchscherer said. “I knew that our serving game was pretty solid, so we said we’ll try to take advantage of that.”
The first two games were a tale of two teams, starting when the Lady Panthers jumped out to an early 14-7 lead en route to taking the opener 25-17. The Lady Eagles responded with a similar surge of their own to open the second set, winning five of the first six points. While the Lady Panthers rallied their way into double-digit scoring, it wasn’t enough to overcome the Lady Eagles, who took the second set 25-13.
“First game, we came out a little bit flat, but then we picked it up towards the end,” Belden said. “Second game, I think we came out with a lot more energy, our energy level was up, and it’s like the girls finally decided to start playing.”
“In the third set, we talked about how we weren’t playing our game,” Tuchscherer said. “We were trying to play this catch-up game when we’re more about getting out early.”
Tuchscherer’s words resonated with the Lady Panthers to begin the third set, getting back to how they performed in the opener by winning nine of the first 11 points. Unlike the first set, the Lady Eagles showed their own resilience by battling back to close the gap to four, 19-15. Despite the rally, the Lady Eagles dropped the set point on a service error to give the Lady Panthers a 2-1 match advantage.
The fourth set began as a tight battle as both sides split the first seven points. That battle turned in the Lady Panthers’ favor as they won 16 of the next 19 points before pulling away to seal the match with a 25-12 fourth set. With the 3-1 match victory, the Lady Panthers watched their four-game skid fall by the wayside despite having performed fairly well against tough competition during that stretch.
“We played pretty well (during the losing streak); we played some really tough teams that pushed us,” Tuchscherer said. “That four-game losing streak starts to add up and weighs on your shoulders, so it was good to break that.”
Offensively, the Lady Panthers were paced by two of their three seniors as Aslynn Tracy and Savannah Moberly notched 11 and 10 kills, respectively. The Lady Eagles were led by junior Linzie Wernert’s 10 kills, while sophomore Karolynn Phillips recorded seven.
The Lady Panthers’ success in the match came on the defensive end, both at the net and near the floor. Tracy took matters into her own hands at the net with four blocks, while Moberly added a pair. Four Lady Panthers recorded double-digit digs, led by junior Audrey Oxley’s 35. Moberly added 19, while sophomores Jaiden Cantrell and Taylor Wade each chipped in 11.
On the other side of the net, the Lady Eagles’ defense was led by Wernert and Phillips, who each notched three blocks, while junior Morgan Sonner contributed two of her own. Wernert and sophomore Jane Davis led the efforts near the floor as they each recorded 17 digs, followed by junior Devyn Oberholtzer’s 10.
The next day, the Lady Eagles broke free of their funk by erasing a 2-0 match deficit to defeat Tell City 3-2. The Lady Panthers added to the Lady Marksmen’s woes by sweeping them in three sets the following Thursday.
The Lady Eagles (5-6, 0-1 SAC) returned to play yesterday (Tuesday) when they hosted Eastern (Pekin) (1-4, 0-3 MSC). The Lady Panthers (5-4, 2-0 MSC) meanwhile will play host to reigning regional champion Silver Creek (8-3, 4-0 MSC) today in a battle of top MSC squads. Junior varsity is set to open both matches at 6 p.m. with the varsity contests to follow.