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Briscoe happy despite loss

North Harrison's Rebekah Stephenson digs up this return against Providence as teammate Caitlyn Janes watches from behind.
August 26, 2009
If you thought North Harrison volleyball coach Wes Briscoe might have been upset after watching his newest team lose its first two matches in three games each, you would be highly mistaken. Following the Lady Cat loss to Providence Thursday night, Briscoe was wearing a smile because he knows how hard his girls played and knows his team can do something special at the end of the season.

"Three hard-fought games, and it was the same way we played Monday night (against New Albany)," Briscoe said after his loss to the Lady Pioneers. "They're busting their butts."

"We have six four-year, varsity lettermen on this roster of this varsity team," he said. "They're determined, by the time we get to the end of our varsity season, to have a whole lot of hardware. They know that starts the first part of the season. We can't wait all season to figure out how to play and expect we're going to play when we get to the sectional. We've got to do that from match one to match 30. They're working hard to try to do that right now."

In their first game, the Lady Cats got down quickly, 6-1, then rallied back to tie the game at 10. The Lady Pioneers surged ahead again, this time to 19-11, but North Harrison rallied once again to within four, 23-19, before falling, 25-20.

"We knew what we were getting into coming to the match against Providence," Briscoe said. "They knew what exactly had to be done."

The Lady Cats got the first point of game two, but Providence came back for a 6-1 lead. North Harrison slowly chewed its way back into the game, getting kills from Caitlyn Janes and Briann Kiesler, and then a Providence error allowed the Lady Cats within two at 12-10. Providence, however, pulled ahead to lead by eight and win, 25-19.

"We were with them," Briscoe said. "If you take the first points out of each game, we're down 5-0, 7-2, 6-1, in the three different games, and then we're right there neck-and-neck with them the whole time. You take those out, and it's a coin flip. We just started slow each time."

The Lady Pioneers raced to an 8-2 lead in game three, but, as in the first two games, North Harrison rallied, this time within one, 14-13, after Providence made four straight hitting errors. Vicky Summer helped push North Harrison in front, 18-16, with three kills. Angela Cassabella killed for a 21-17 lead, but in the end Providence rallied to tie after a kill by Ashely Ricks. The Lady Cats erred twice, and Brittany Pierce blocked for the winning kill in the 25-22 win.

"I thought we had it there in that third game where Amanda (Hartley) stepped back to serve and brought us all the way back in," Briscoe said. "She has six serves on a run. Providence couldn't pass the ball up to get anything going, and it allowed us to get back in the game."

Janes led North Harrison with six kills, and Cassabella, Summer and Deidre Book had four kills each. The Lady Cats missed eight serves and had only two aces to go along with 26 errors.

"Caitlyn's serve was huge tonight," Briscoe said. "She's changed her jump serve, and it's a lot better. That's happened in 24 hours. I'm really excited about that.

"Halle Jacobi, this is her first year as a full-time varsity player, and she looks like she's been here a whole year before. She's aggressive and determined when she steps out on the floor. She's strong and she's not afraid to make a mistake because she's trying to be aggressive.

"We've got Angela Cassabella doing a good job, and we're trying to get her to be a big force offensively, too. Vicky Summer had some big swings. I can point around the court."

Pierce led Providence with 11 kills, and Ricks, a 6-5 junior, followed with 10 kills. Taylor Gelbach had six kills, and Courtney Murphy and Kristin Simms finished with five and four kills, respectively. Providence missed nine serves, had three aces and committed 28 mistakes.

"Deidre (Book) did a good job of spreading the ball around offensively, but had a couple of mental errors there at the end of game three," Briscoe said. "Amanda Hartley came in tonight and served very well for us. This is the first time she's been a full-time varsity player and played some amazing defense. Amanda never backed down one time at a swing in her direction. She stood her ground, and we were able to get a lot of rallies because of that."

Briscoe said his team is showing it can stay with the best in the region, and he hopes that will continue into the post-season.

"Unfortunately, we haven't been in this position too many times where we (match) with state power houses," he said. "But we feel like we belong there this year. We've got a lot of girls really determined to play, and it's going to be a whole lot of fun. I'm really excited."

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