October 23, 2013It was a night of lights on, lights out Thursday at the Ron Ferguson Gymnasium as the North Harrison Lady Cats and Crawford County Lady Pack saw their off-and-on switches go up and down, with the Lady Cats getting the final say in a 3-1 win. Both teams had games they want to forget but plan to put that behind them as they move into this week's sectional.
"I think we really focus on building confidence going into the sectional," North Harrison assistant coach Caitlyn Janes said. "When you get up 10 or 15 points, you have to stay up and you want to be up through 25 points, so you don't want to let down. You don't want to try different things. You just want to go as hard as you can for all 25 points."
North Harrison's Carlie Burson, left, and Crawford County's Kayla Elsea battle through four games before the Lady Cats won, 3-1. Burson finished with 16 kills. Photo by Wade Bell
"It's been crazy," Crawford coach Angie Allen said. "Part of that is we had a mix of girls playing together that normally didn't play together. With this being fall break week, we had four girls that were out on vacation, not here and that made it shy on our JV team and it ultimately affected our varsity team because then we didn't have the games to play with the other girls coming in and out. It's just a combination of things."
It was senior night for the Lady Pack, and the emotion showed as Crawford went into game one. Crawford quickly got behind as North Harrison took a 12-4 lead. The Lady Pack tried to get back in the game but found themselves farther behind as the Lady Cats won game one 25-14.
Crawford switched back on in game two and jumped out in front 5-0. North Harrison quickly came back to tie, with Jill Book punching in a kill and pair of service aces. Bethany Wiley added a kill then Crawford erred, the game tied at 5. From there, the two teams traded paint through seven ties and 6 lead changes. Kayla Elsea punched in an ace and Brooke Sauer added a kill for a 21-18 Crawford lead. The Lady Pack held on from there to win the game 25-19.
"We like to think we didn't play four games, that the second game doesn't exist and we just played three," Janes said. "We didn't play four. We're trying to just block it out of the memory. We were definitely on our off switch in that second game, and we had to come back and get our momentum back somehow in order to win the next two."
North Harrison turned the burners back on in game three while Crawford hit an iceberg. The Lady Cats came out on fire and flew to a 15-1 lead, with Book getting four service aces and Carlie Burson punching in four kills. The Lady Pack sputtered through the game, while North Harrison went on to get the 25-8 win.
"The second game they played well," Allen said. "The third game was horrendous. I hate to even talk about that one. The fourth game they didn't start out too bad."
The Lady Cats saw their switch go off in game four, with North Harrison committing five errors and Crawford's Kayla Elsea getting a kill for a 6-0 Lady Pack lead. North Harrison got two of those points back, but the Lady Pack turned up the heat. Elsea got back-to-back kills as Crawford's lead jumped to 10-3.
North Harrison then launched an offense, getting four kills on its next five points to close the gap to two. Katie Tincher and Sauer punched in kills, pushing Crawford's lead back to four, but North Harrison surged again, closing to within one, 14-13, after Brittany Rudolph killed for a point.
Burson later got two kills, putting North Harrison out in front, but Crawford's Laken Fraime tied the game back up at 16. North Harrison then scored the next five points in an offensive run. Crawford never recovered from that run, and the Lady Cats went on to get a 25-19 game and match win.
"We had a lot of good moments we haven't seen in other games, where we had all six players going after the ball that normally they would have just let go," Janes said. "So, that was good for us."
"Our girls wanted this game," Allen said. "They really did, and they had the jitters going in so that's part of it. Senior night being part of it; the last game of the season being a part of it. Just throwing all of that together and our girls, mentally is a weak spot for them, being able to overcome little things."
Carlie Burson led the Lady Cats with 16 kills and 19 digs. Jill Book had eight service aces and 18 digs, and Brittany Rudolph and Bethany Wiley had five kills each. Maddie Janes had 15 digs. North Harrison had 28 errors, missed five serves but had a whopping 17 service aces.
"(Burson) had a lot of nice kills, but everybody made plays," Janes said. "They all worked together, and that's what we talked about, going off other peoples' plays in order to work as a team and win every point."
Kayla Elsea led Crawford with 12 kills, and Brooke Sauer was one behind with 11 kills for the night. The Lady Pack missed seven serves, had just two aces and erred 31 times.
"Ultimately, it always has been mental with these girls," Allen said. "If they make a mistake, somebody makes a mistake and they get down. It's hard to bring themselves back up. More points they get behind and the next thing you know they can't dig themselves out of it."
Both teams now look at the sectional. North Harrison will meet Madison in the second match of the Brownstown sectional, and Crawford will meet Paoli in the first match tomorrow night at Providence.
"As a team, I still have a few things I would like to work on but, as far as building confidence, I think we're in a good spot," Janes said. "I think we're in a good rotation and, as long as we play well, I think we will do well in the sectional."
"I told the girls it's the end of the season," Allen said. "We have bigger things ahead of us. Thursday night we play Paoli and it's to beat Paoli, then we move on to Saturday. That's what we're going to focus on."