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Crawford can't finish against Henryville

October 16, 2019
There were times when it looked like the Crawford County Lady Pack volleyball team was going to end their regular season on a good note against visiting Henryville and take some momentum into the upcoming sectional. Those good notes, however, turned into sour notes as Crawford County struggled to finish with the Lady Hornets holding strong in all three games, leaving the Lady Pack to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it in the short time they have until the tournament.

Crawford County's Desirae Puckett puts herself on the floor for this return in game two of their loss to the Lady Hornets of Henryville. Photo By Wade Bell
"Tonight just wasn't our night," said Crawford County coach Julie Adams. "We were talking in the locker room that maybe we'd rather lose in the regular season than sectionals, so maybe that will put the fire under their butts to get it done at sectionals."

The Lady Hornets threw a blitz to start the first set, jumping out to a 5-1 lead as Crawford County showed a little discombobulation to start the match. At the mid-way point, the Lady Pack got their stride back and ran off four straight points to tie the game at 15. Three more ties came, at 18, 19 and 20. A hitting error kept the Lady Pack from getting over the hump. Kylie Lacy had back-to-back kills to put the Lady Hornets up for good and go on to win 25-22.

Crawford County established the lead at the start of game two, going up 8-4 with the help of four Henryville hitting errors. The Lady Hornets went on the attack and fired right back with four points to tie again at 8. Henryville briefly took the lead on a winner by Charleigh Ryan, but Treasure Nickelson and Sarah Stutzman countered with kills. The Lady Hornets erred twice as well for a 13-9 Crawford County advantage.

The Lady Pack continued to lead until a kill by Emily Bush set off a 4-0 burst, with two of those coming from Crawford County errors, for a 23-22 Henryville edge. Stutzman killed in return, and a Lady Hornets shot into the net put Crawford County back in front 24-23. Bush killed again to send the game into extra points. Lacy tipped, pushing Henryville back on top. A huge save by Crawford County sophomore Desirae Puckett had the ball fall just inside the baseline for a 25-all score. On the next side-out, Haylea Crandall hit into the net. Lacy made the final kill as the Lady Hornets got the 27-25 win.

"Desi's defense is very helpful," Adams said of Puckett. "Last night at Mitchell, she did the same thing. She dug up balls and said, 'I don't know how I'm doing it.' She finds a way. She's definitely helping defensively."

The lead changed hands three times through the early part of game three. Henryville delivered a serve into the net, then Crawford County went on the attack with five straight kills, with Stutzman hitting four straight. Crawford County was like a storm surge and took its lead all the way to 20-10.

But, as quick as that wave came in, it suddenly turned back out to sea as Henryville ran off 10 straight points. Lacy pounded in seven kills from the right side for a 20-all tie. Lexie Fraime punched in a Crawford County kill, and Henryville erred twice, putting Crawford County's lead at game point, 24-21. Lacy drilled in two more kills, and Riley Nunn added a service ace to tie the game at 24. Crawford County committed hitting errors on the next two side-outs, and the Lady Hornets had the 26-24 game and match win.

"We had a 20-10 lead, and we can't close out," said Adams. "It's frustrating ... It's never fun to lose, especially on senior night, the last regular season game. We've got to take it as a lesson and learn."

Stutzman led the Lady Pack with 14 kills, and Nickelson finished with six kills. Crandall added four kills and two service aces for the Lady Pack, who missed just one serve, delivered three aces and had 27 errors on the night.

"She had a lot of huge blocks that were very helpful," Adams said of Stutzman. "I told them in the huddle if we can get touches on blocks or full blocks, the better off we'll be. They're working too hard when they don't need to be. They have good hitters. So, that, too, kind of put us in a challenge and gave us a good mentality of what to expect going into next week."

Lacy had a big night for Lady Hornets with 21 kills, and Haley Terry fired in eight kills. Emily Bush had seven kills, and Riley Nunn had five.

Henryville missed six serves and had four aces for the night and totaled 26 errors for the three games.

"For whatever reason, we didn't want to cover her tips tonight," said Adams of Lacy's stats. "They burnt us left and right. If I was their coach, I'd have them doing the same thing. It was a good lesson for us to know what to do differently since we play them the first round of sectionals."

Crawford County gets a rematch with the Lady Hornets in that opening round of the Henryville sectional (played Oct. 15). Adams videoed the match and said she would go over it with a fine-tooth comb.

"I think the big thing is knowing where our open spots are to go against them, knowing to cover the spots they burnt us on tonight and just really taking tonight and running with it," said Adams. "We've got to cover. We have to get bigger blocks. Our serving wasn't terrible, but our serve-receive was. We did a lot of tipping tonight and a lot of free balls, so we didn't get a lot of chances to run our offense. I think it's back to the basics of little things, passing and covering."

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