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Lady Dragons scorch North

Lady Dragons scorch North
Lady Dragons scorch North
North Harrison’s Abby Manek, left, McKenna Smith (4) and Madi Clunie collided as they come in to cover a Silver Creek ball in game three of the Lady Dragons’ three-game sweep Thursday. Photo by Wade Bell
By Wade Bell, Sports Writer

Two timely mental errors proved to be disastrous Thursday evening for the North Harrison Lady Cats against visiting Mid-Southern Conference-opponent Silver Creek, leading to a 3-0 sweep for the Lady Dragons. The Lady Cats had all of the parts working until game two when the wheels fell off.

“It’s probably the best we’ve played against them in several years, but then, at the same time those moments where we needed to show the team we could be, we didn’t,” said North Harrison coach Caitlyn Burson. “So, that’s frustrating. We really needed to do that getting down to the end of the season.”

North Harrison had the edge early, but points were going back and forth and so did the lead a few side-outs later. The Lady Cats took the lead when Graci Nolot blocked for a kill and North Harrison followed with three more points for a 12-8 advantage. Silver Creek later came back with four of its own for a 14-13 edge, forcing Burson to call timeout.

Macy Ferrell aced on serve after the break. Kyra Case punched in a kill to start a 4-0 North Harrison run and a 17-15 lead, the Lady Dragons using a timeout to regroup. The Lady Cats kept the momentum until they let the ball drop during a miscommunication error, giving Silver Creek a 20-19 edge. Burson called timeout again, but the momentum shift had already begun with Silver Creek leading by two. The Lady Cats let the ball drop again in another miscommunication mistake. From there, Silver Creek went on to post the 25-20 win.

“When you have all of the momentum in the world and it’s 19-19, that can’t happen,” Burson said. “It’s just a difference of, ‘Do you want the ball in your hand in a big game?’ and it looked like we didn’t in both of those miscommunications. Who wants to step up and make the big play? If you don’t, then we’re going to struggle the rest of the night.”

Silver Creek went on a rage to start game two, racing out to a 14-2 lead. The Lady Cats tried to get some traction, but the gears weren’t grabbing and Silver Creek middle hitter Addison Makum was punching holes in the Lady Cats’ defense. North Harrison made a short gain late in the game on a 4-0 run. It wasn’t enough to spark the Lady Cats, however, as Silver Creek got the 25-17 game-two win.

“We talked about coming back out with momentum and staying on the blocks and setting up our serve-receive, but our serve-receive didn’t click in set two and we let (Makum) just eat us,” said the North Harrison coach. “We just didn’t get any touches to help slow it down for our defense. That really caused us to struggle in set two. We actually made a run towards the end, but you wouldn’t even know it because our energy didn’t match in set one or set two or set three.”

The Lady Dragons continued to breath fire in game three, racing out to an 11-2 lead to start the set. North Harrison managed to make a slight gain, closing the gap to seven, but from that point it was all Silver Creek, which went on to crush the Lady Cats 25-13 for the sweep.

“We had three people that could have taken it and nobody stepped up and took it,” said Burson. “It’s just not in my nature to give up on a ball. When you have all of the momentum in the world, not to do everything possible to make the play, it’s really hard for me to understand and get on a level of that group when that happens.”

Nolot led North Harrison with five kills, and Kendyl Lasley had four kills and two service aces. The Lady Cats missed seven serves and had six aces and 22 errors.

“We knew we wanted to try to set up more opportunities for one-on-ones for Gracie Nolot and Kendyl, so we moved some things around but we still struggled with serve-receive,” Burson said. “Even though we created some opportunities without the big blocker, we didn’t have the opportunity to run an offense. So, we just struggled with that.”

Makum led Silver Creek with 14 kills, and Abby Larson had seven kills. Ferrell and Kiki Brown had four service aces each, and Carley Birk had three kills and two aces. The Lady Dragons missed just four serves and delivered 15 aces. Silver Creek had 21 errors for the three games.

“We just couldn’t keep up with her,” Burson said of Makum. “We tried making some changes to hopefully get more touches on the ball in set three, and she just filled it in. She’s a very good player. She could go up and over pretty much anybody we put up there.”

With the season winding down, Burson said her team needs to get its focus back to be ready for the post-season.

“We’ve got five and then a tournament, about nine before the sectional,” she said. “We have time for sure. It just depends on how much work we’re willing to put in and who shows up each day.”