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Lady Eagles defeat New Washington

Lady Eagles defeat New Washington
Lady Eagles defeat New Washington
Lanesville junior Morgan Sonner (14) tries to block a New Washington kill, only to do so with her face before surrendering a point to the Lady Mustangs on Thursday. Photo by Brandon Miniard
Brandon Miniard, Sports Writer, [email protected]

The past week was one of ups and downs for the Lanesville volleyball team, starting said week with a 3-0 sweep of Perry Central last Monday. Just a day later, the Lady Eagles were on the receiving end of the broom against sectional-foe Christian Academy of Indiana.

At 1-1 on the week, and 9-11 overall, the Lady Eagles returned to the Eagles nest to host Southern Athletic Conference-rival New Washington on Thursday night in a battle between the two previous SAC champions.

Splitting the first two sets and trailing 15-9 in the third period, a 16-point assault led by the serving arm of sophomore libero Ava Kerr was the catalyst in a critical four-set victory for the Lady Eagles, 26-24, 23-25, 25-15, 25-23.

“We knew that New Wash was going to be tough,” Eagles’ skipper Adam Belden said. “We’re in a tough part of our schedule; these next four games are big ones for us.”

The opening set epitomized how intense the match would be throughout, with neither side getting a lead bigger than four points. Down 19-17, the Lady Eagles rallied to win eight of the next 13 points to take the first set 26-24.

The Lady Mustangs set the tone to begin the second set as they won seven of the first nine points. That advantage didn’t last too long as the Lady Eagles chipped the deficit down to 13-12, battling back and forth before going into a time out tied at 22. This time, it was the Lady Mustangs who rallied, scoring three of the last four points, tying the match at a game apiece with a 25-23 victory.

“Last couple of games, we’ve started off slow but managed to come back. Sometimes we dig too big of a hole for ourselves,” Belden said. “That second game, we let (New Wash) come back and take us out of our offense and defense; we weren’t moving our feet at all.”

As the third set began, both sides again battled by splitting the first 12 points. The Lady Mustangs appeared ready to rev their engines for another rally as they began to pull away, leading 15-9 before Belden called a time out.

“I told them, ‘Hey, they’re out-hustling you right now; you are not moving your feet and not getting to the defensive spots you need to be. You’ve got to be more aggressive’,” Belden said. “They hit too many easy shots, and we weren’t taking our swings. Serves also got to be in, because I think in the second game we missed six serves.”

Belden’s words resonated with the Lady Eagles coming out of the time out, especially with Kerr as she went up to serve. Despite the match happening on her birthday, she gave her team a critical gift by leading the Lady Eagles on a 16-point rampage, stunning the Lady Mustangs as the rally resulted in a 25-15 Lady Eagles’ set victory.

“I was very nervous because we were down by a lot,” Kerr said. “I’ve been missing my serves because I just came back from breaking my wrist, so I wasn’t getting my serves in.”

Armed with a 2-1 match advantage, the Lady Eagles once again battled the Lady Mustangs in the fourth set, though the Lady Mustangs again looked primed to pull away by taking 15 of the first 25 points. That deficit grew no bigger as the Lady Eagles broke even before taking a 24-22 edge on a long rally. After the Lady Mustangs won the next point, junior Grace Campbell only had to watch as the Lady Mustangs’ next serve landed out of bounds, sending loud cheers through the Eagles nest as the Lady Eagles won the set 25-23 and the match in four sets.

“I say the same thing every game; we’ve got a good, talented team, it’s just a matter of cleaning up our little mistakes,” Belden said. “You gotta go until the whistle blows, so they just hustled their butts off that last game; that’s what saved us.”

With the victory, the Lady Eagles (10-11, 1-1 SAC) broke into the win column in the SAC rankings after losing their conference opener to rival Borden in five sets. After getting a much-needed weekend off, the Lady Eagles continued SAC action by taking on the remainder of their conference schedule. That schedule started by beating rival South Central on Monday and continues when they host Henryville today (Wednesday). The Lady Eagles will conclude conference play Thursday, Oct. 7, when they host rival Crothersville.