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Salem wears down Lady Pack in four

September 05, 2012
The Crawford County Lady Pack volleyball team was all over the floor against visiting Salem Tuesday night, Aug. 28, but the Lady Lions had a better evening, winning in a four-game round. This year, Crawford County has a group of young guns, with just one senior on the team and a new coach in Angie Allen, who is getting her team ready for the next three years.

Crawford County’s Kayla Elsea (22) goes up to block Salem’s Sarah Cheatham in game three of the Lady Lions’ 3-1 win against the Lady Pack.
"We have a lot of young players," Allen said after the match. "We have one girl that is back from varsity and one senior that played JV last year, and the rest are sophomores. They played really well in their junior high. They're doing well so far. They're growing mentally and physically. They've got a long way to go. We're just setting our eyes on the years to come. This is a transitioning year for us."

Both teams came out slugging, and Crawford County led 10-9 until an 8-2 run pushed Salem to lead 17-12. The Lady Lions controlled from that point for a 25-17 win.

In game two, Crawford County sped to a 7-2 lead but then served out of bounds. Salem committed an error but bounced back with 10 unanswered points to lead 14-9. Salem again cruised through the remainder of the game to win 25-14.

"They are very aggressive," Allen said of her team, who was hitting the floor as much as it is standing up. "They hustle and they go after the ball. That's just an area they've improved in. Earlier in the season, we've had balls that hit the floor, and it's just an area they've improved in. That's what I tell them. We're looking to improve. We've got to cover and do our transitioning. We've got to cover our blockers. We've got to cover our hitters. We've got to go after every ball. We can't let anything drop, and they have tremendously improved in that area."

Crawford County jumped to a 3-0 lead in game three, but Salem came back to lead by one. The momentum shifted again as the Lady Pack busted loose for a 6-2 spurt and a 9-6 advantage. Crawford County continued to hold the edge despite Salem's retaliations. Crawford County held a one-point edge at 13-12 and again at 21-20. A Crawford County error and then a kill by Cortney Greene gave Salem a 24-23 lead.

Salem had game point again at 25-24 and later at 27-26. Kayla Elsea punched in a kill to tie the game at 27. Katie Tincher followed with a tip to put Crawford County in front. Tylynn Allen delivered an ace, and Crawford County had game three, 29-27.

Angie Allen said Elsea, who transferred from North Harrison, gives the team some much needed size the Lady Pack haven't had for a while.

"I was so excited to see her come in," Allen said. "We've put her in the middle position, which has allowed us to take Katie Tincher and pull her to the outside. Now, we not only have two strong middles, we have a strong outside."

Salem erred twice to give Crawford County a 2-0 lead to begin game four. The Lady Lions quickly re-grouped and ran off the next seven points. Crawford County pulled within three, but Salem again countered, this time to go in front 10-5. Salem had all the momentum from that point and went on to win the game and match, 25-13.

"One thing these girls have got to overcome is they get down on themselves if they make a mistake," Allen said. "That will come in time. That will come with their maturity. That's the mental aspect they have to keep working on and keep improving on."

With the exception of Elsea and senior Courtney Crecelius, Allen said her varsity team has been together since junior high.

"They played together last year as freshmen and they all get along really well," she said. "That's a big part of it. They're able to communicate and talk. If one of them makes a mistake, they don't get too upset when somebody points it out. I try to encourage them to let them know. You've got to take the constructive criticism. They're not doing it to be mean or be hurtful. It's trying to improve their game. Their communication has improved from the get-go."

Brooke Sauer led the Lady Pack with nine kills and three service aces. Tincher followed with seven kills, and Elsea had four. The Lady Pack had six aces and missed just four serves. The team's youth showed in the 31 errors.

"Katie Tincher, I'm very proud of her because, when she knows she's not in the right spot or she's not doing something right and mentally she's not in the game, she will say, 'Take me out,' " Allen said. "Even with serving, she knows, if her serving's not on, she will tell us, 'Take me out and put somebody else in to serve.' That's a team player right there."

"Lexi (Bowling) has improved tremendously," Allen said. "Last year, she was scared to death and quit. This year, she has made improvements with her hitting. Mikayla Bowman, she played in junior high. She didn't play last year in high school, but she's coming in on the front line for us in the setter position, so she can do some hitting on the weak side for us."

Salem spread the scoring around, with Jordan Eastridge getting 11 kills and Greene nine. Sarah Cheatham had seven kills and three service aces, and Kaytie White had six kills. Bailey Walker had four aces and two kills, and Treasure Hurst had three kills and three aces. The Lady Lions missed eight serves but had 13 aces. Salem, however, also had 31 errors.

Allen said her team's youth and athleticism give the Lady Pack considerable promise for the next three years.

"The big thing I tell the girls is don't get caught up on winning and losing," she said. "Get caught up on growing up. Don't look at it this year as we have to have a winning season this year. Look at it as we are growing physically and mentally. We are kind of merging together and coming together as a team. Look at it in your junior and senior years, because we're going to have these girls for another two years. The wins will come down the road. I'm excited for them."

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