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Lady Pirates sink Lady Cats

Lady Pirates sink Lady Cats
Lady Pirates sink Lady Cats
North Harrison’s Madison Lowe fires a shot over the top of Charlestown’s Raegan Abbott in the first set of the Lady Pirates’ 3-1 victory. Photo by Wade Bell
Wade Bell, Sports Writer

The North Harrison girls’ volleyball team hoped to start its Mid-Southern Conference schedule with a good showing against visiting Charlestown Thursday night; however, it was anything but as the Lady Pirates came out with guns a-blazing to get a 3-1 win. The Lady Cats struggled to find any consistency and saw their first conference match go into the loss column.

“This is our first conference game and, when you come into a conference game, you want to come in with a bang,” said North Harrison coach Caitlyn Burson. “We came in and fizzled out instead of coming in with a bang. It’s frustrating because it’s ‘Where do you go from here?’ Do you decide to turn it around and play in a really competitive conference against a competitive team like you can or are you going to come in flat? Unfortunately, a lot of that is inner motivation. So, that’s what we’re struggling with as a team.”

The Lady Cats got off to a good start in game 1, jumping out to a 5-1 lead. North Harrison later led 10-5 after a hitting error by the Lady Pirates. Charlestown then made a run to tie the game at 11. Kendyl Lasley ripped a kill for the Lady Cats, then Charlestown hit out of bounds. North Harrison misfired on serve on its next sideout, then Kendra Grayson fired in a kill to put the Lady Pirates back in front. Charlestown led from that point on for the 25-17 win.

“They got some blocks and their confidence built,” Burson said of Charlestown. “Our hitters’ confidence went down. Then, we tried to tip a lot for the next set and a half. That’s just not our game, and it doesn’t set up our defense when we try to do that too much.”

Charlestown’s confidence carried over into game two with the Lady Pirates running to a 13-7 advantage. North Harrison rallied back with five straight points, closing back within one, 13-12. The two teams traded points, then Bri Fawver killed to tie the game at 14. Points went back and forth through the next several sideouts. Charlestown finally found some breathing room when Kylie McConnell killed for a point and Tara Chisman aced on serve. North Harrison later closed within one but then hit into the net on the next volley, and the Lady Pirates got the 25-23 win.

“They communicated, and that’s something we’ve really been trying to bring out in someone or a few people, to bring that communication both on offense and defense,” said the North Harrison coach. “Right now, we just haven’t been able to find it.”

The Lady Pirates grabbed the lead to start game three, but North Harrison stayed within striking distance down two, 11-9, nearly midway through the game. Charlestown countered to lead by six. The Lady Cats continued to fight and took advantage of Lady Pirates’ errors to cut their deficit in half.

Late in the game, North Harrison rallied again, this time with four straight points on kills by Sydney Smith and Graci Stegner and a pair of service aces by Molly Coomer, giving North Harrison a one-point lead, 22-21. Charlestown got one of those back when North Harrison hit into the net. Smith killed twice to give North Harrison match point at 24-22. McConnell blocked for a Charlestown kill, but Madison Lowe killed to send the match into game four for the Lady Cats.

“The main thing I’m looking for right now is the gut that you have to have, ‘I’m going to get every kill’,” said Burson. “I want them to come to me on serve-receive, ‘because I want to pass it.’ ‘I know I’m going to send it to the D-zone.’ I want the hitters to be coming for me, ‘So I can get a block or I can get a dig or I can get a block’.”

North Harrison grabbed the lead on the first sideout of game four when Charlestown hit out of bounds, but the Lady Pirates got the next three to go out in front. North Harrison tried to hold on through the next several volleys, but Charlestown broke out to a 19-11 advantage. The Lady Cats never really got back in the game and fell by a 25-15 decision.

“We didn’t have six people that came to play,” Burson said. “We had individuals that came to play but at different times. We didn’t have a cohesive group that was here for all 25 points. There was some indications. Tuesday’s practice was not a great practice. We weren’t very focused, and we weren’t very motivated. Then at yesterday’s practice we were a little too unfocused again.”

Smith led the Lady Cats with nine kills, and Fawver had six kills. Stegner and Lowe had five kills each, and Kyra Case and Lasley had four kills each. The Lady Cats missed 11 serves and had five service aces and 45 errors for the four games.

“Sydney tried to hold us together in parts of the sets, and Gracie had a great night in all four sets and came in, did some really good things,” said Burson. “Two people just isn’t enough when they have everything clicking for them.

“Molly had a great serving night,” the coach said. “She really had a great passing night, but we just didn’t get enough touches on their quick balls to slow things down for our defense as a whole. Molly is always a solid passer and comes in with a level head and she wants to win so bad. So, with those serving runs, if she can get them, she’s going to take them.”

Sophia Fuquay led Charlestown with eight kills, and McConnell finished with seven. Raegan Abbott, Claire Sweeney and Grayson had four kills each, and Chisman had four aces.

“I think right now we have too many that are afraid of making a mistake rather than owning every ball on the court,” Burson said. “I need some people who want to take over on the volleyball court. But I need a few of them; I can’t just have one here or one there or one this night or one the next night. I need all six.”