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Lady Cats rally, top Charlestown in five

September 18, 2019
The North Harrison Lady Cats and visiting Charlestown took the word "slug-fest" to a whole new level Thursday night in a five-game match that saw a total 47 ties and 22 lead changes. When the smoke had all cleared, the Lady Cats had come back from a two-game deficit to secure a 3-2 win over their Mid-Southern Conference opponent.

North Harrison sophomore Morgan Friedholt fires over Charlestown's Katelyn Devers (14) and Korea Tutt after returning from a two-week layoff due to an injury. Photo By Wade Bell
It was also the second five-game win in a row with North Harrison a follow up to defeating Eastern (Pekin).

"That's a lot when we go into a four-game tournament this weekend," said North Harrison coach Caitlyn Burson after the win. "I know they're tired, but I think that shows the work they've been putting in in practice to get ready for these situations."

The match began as a swap meet between the two teams until the Lady Cats gave themselves some breathing room after Baylee Rudolph and Chloe Jacobi ripped back-to-back kills for an 18-14 advantage. That didn't phase the Lady Pirates, however, who chewed into the lead and came back to go ahead following three straight North Harrison hitting errors. Rudolph and Jacobi tied up the game again at 20 and 21. The Lady Cats erred on the next side-out, and from there the Lady Pirates went on to get a 25-22 win.

Game two began with the Lady Cats getting a 3-0 edge. That didn't last long as the Lady Pirates rallied back once again to take a 7-6 lead when North Harrison erred twice. Another swap meet began with the two teams trading points, but Charlestown had the advantage. A few minutes later, North Harrison committed three more errors as the Lady Pirates' advantage went to four, 19-15.

The Lady Cats rallied again, and two tips by Emma Schneider and a kill by Jacobi put North Harrison back on top 23-22. Charlestown, however, refused to give up. After three more lead changes Kayleigh Smith ripped back-to-back kills and the Lady Pirates went up 2-0 with a 28-26 win.

"We came out really struggling at the beginning, and we struggled in passing and getting 100% effort on passing every single ball," said Burson. "That is what had to change for us if we were going to come back to win the game or even the set."

"After that second game, I told them that they had nothing to lose," she said. "They needed to give it full effort and heart and have pride in every single ball that they touched and give themselves every chance they could to win this game."

There were nine lead changes and 16 ties in game three with neither team wanting to concede or make any mistakes. This one went into extra points as well, but this time the Lady Cats held the advantage. Following a tie at 26-all, Charlestown erred on serve then had a miscommunication, allowing the Lady Cats a 28-26 win.

Game four began as all of the others with points going back and forth but with the advantage going to the Lady Pirates. Morgan Friedholdt and Andrea Ness dropped in kills to put North Harrison in front. At that point, North Harrison got some momentum that Charlestown couldn't break as the Lady Cats' lead went to five, 20-15, following a kill by Rudolph. The Lady Pirates later pulled back within three but would get no closer as North Harrison went on for a 25-18 win, sending the match into a deciding fifth game.

"It was close the whole time," said Burson. "We lost games one and two, but it could have gone either way several times. I think that's frustrating too when you're right there and it doesn't go your way."

Game five began with three lead changes then the Lady Cats took over with a 7-2 run started by a kill by Rudolph and service ace by Schneider for a 10-4 advantage. Charlestown failed to get a real foothold through the remainder of the game, and the Lady Cats went on to get a 15-9 game and match win.

"For games three, four and five to go their way is a real confidence booster," Burson said. "No matter what match you're in, this group needs to learn to play every match like it's conference or sectional or state. We even talked about every single ball and giving your effort as much as you can."

Rudolph had a huge night for the Lady Cats with 28 kills and four aces. Jacobi also had a big night with 21 kills, while Maddie Liebert and Emma Schneider finished with five kills each. North Harrison missed 15 serves, had eight aces and made 41 errors.

"Baylee and Chloe had huge nights for us, and they kept the energy going for us, especially in games three and four and heading into game five," said Burson. "Morgan (Friedholdt, four kills) is really young. She's learning a lot of things, and she's been injured for two weeks. She's just getting back into the swing of things. She practiced with us last week and now she's getting ready to go, but she's still trying to fit in with the rest of them."

Kayleigh Smith led Charlestown with 19 kills, while Katelyn Devers and Lanae Crowe finished with seven kills each. Charlestown missed 11 serves and delivered just three service aces. The Lady Pirates finished with 31 errors.

"(Smith) was going up over our block a lot, so we had to adjust our defense more so than our block," said Burson. "She got a lot of shots down right over the top of us."

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