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Lady Highlanders slip to Mercy


September 28, 2011
Floyd Central volleyball coach Bart Powell hadn't been well pleased with how his Lady Highlanders had performed during their last few matches. Last Tuesday night, Floyd Central came up short to Louisville Mercy, but this time Powell was pleased with how well his team played.

"Overall, I was very pleased," Powell said. "We competed. … I was excited that we finally competed tonight against a really good team."

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Floyd Central’s Ashleigh Libs (17) and Sydney Engle put up a wall that Mercy’s Jessie McKenna (2) cannot penetrate as the pair of Lady Highlanders tandem for a block in game three. Photo by Wade Bell
Mercy came out slugging and launched to a 19-12 lead in game one. Floyd Central, however, slowly worked its way back, getting started with a kill from Sydney Engle. Remi Bowman later tipped in a point to start an 8-0 run, with Kyndall Merritt then acing on serve for a 21-20 Lady Highlanders lead.

Mercy followed with three kills to lead by two, 23-21. Sisters Sydney and Rachel Engle countered with kills to tie the game at 23. A Floyd Central service error put Mercy back in front, and Courtney Crable slammed in the last point of the game for Mercy which got the 25-23 win.

"The last week we've just been working defense and serve receive," Powell said. "I was thinking to myself when game one started, 'Where was all the serve-receive practice going?,' because we were immediately down."

"We were down 19-12 and took the lead at 21-20," Powell said. "That's hard to do against that team. I was shocked that we did that, to be honest."

The Lady Highlanders fought to hang on to a one-point edge in the early going of game two. Ashley Witt punched in a Mercy kill to start a 7-2 run by the Jaguars, with Amanda Crask getting four kills in the run. Mercy held on from that point for a 25-16 win.

"We got a lot of nice passes from the DS's (defensive specialists) and could run offense 90 percent of the time," Powell said. "That's so key against real good teams. You've got to run the ball back at them as hard as they run it at you. Defensively, of our DS's, Sarah Engle just did a fabulous job back there."

Floyd Central worked to get the upper hand in game three as Sydney Engle ripped a kill for a 9-5 Lady Highlanders advantage. The Jaguars responded with a 9-1 rally to lead 14-10.

The Lady Highlanders didn't roll over, launching a counter-offensive. Sydney Engle tipped for a point, then Bowman and Rachel Engle blocked for kills to tie the game at 15.

From there, the lead swapped three times and the Lady Highlanders held a 23-21 edge following a service ace by Morgan Wilson. Erin McGrath aced for Mercy, but Bowman blocked for a kill, keeping Floyd Central in front. Crable countered with two big hammers for points, putting Mercy back in front. Crask had the final kill of the night as the Jaguars got the 26-24 win.

"I told them we gave them a seven-point run in game one and an eight-point run in game two," Powell said of his talk before game three. "Otherwise, we've played them even the whole time. If we can stop those runs to two and three, we'll be much closer and, obviously, we stopped those runs."

Rachel Engle led the Lady Highlanders with 18 kills, and Sydney Engle had 10. Bowman followed with eight kills for the Lady Highlanders who missed six serves and hit for five aces. Floyd Central finished with 15 errors. The Lady Highlanders also had a lot of bodies on the floor with what Powell called their best digging night of the season.

"This is what I'm wanting to see against a real good team that runs a high-octane offense," the Floyd Central coach said. "They never hardly put the ball in the air. They're going, they're flying. Your defense has got to be ready for that."

Powell also was pleased with his team's blocking on defense, especially by Sydney Engle, Bowman and Jamie Wallace.

"A lot of blocks," Powell said. "We're tall enough and we can jump high enough. We should be able to block. To block that well against that good of offensive team, that was very positive for our program."

Crable led Mercy with 12 kills, and Crask finished with 10. Lauren Schneidtmiller had six kills, and Sarah Katz and Lasmine Smith had five each. Mercy missed five serves and had four aces. The Jaguars finished with just 11 errors.

"Once they started believing they could play with that team, then we picked it up a notch and came back from that," Powell said. "We played Sacred Heart tough. We played Holy Cross tough. We've played Mercy tough. They're in the top 50 in the country, let alone Kentucky, so are we using that as a measuring trick? Yeah, we're using that as a measuring stick. I'm not sure we competed against Sacred Heart or competed against Holy Cross, but we competed against Mercy."

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