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Lady Cats hold off South Central

Lady Cats hold off South Central
Lady Cats hold off South Central
North Harrison’s Maddie Liebert fires a shot over South Central’s Kendall Kiper in the first set of the Lady Cats’ 3-0 win on Sept. 1. Photo by Wade Bell
By Wade Bell, Sports Writer

The North Harrison Lady Cat volleyball team had a solid win against visiting West Washington on Aug. 31, but 24 hours later stumbled its way to a three-game sweep over visiting South Central. The Lady Rebels were playing with some adversity, with just seven players to utilize for the night.

“I feel like we played really well, especially considering that we are down to seven players,” said South Central coach Amanda Sims. “We have three that are on quarantine until Thursday, so we’ve really kind of made some adjustments. We’ve really worked on what we have with who we have left.”

“We were really good last night with a lot of consistency, and then we had the opposite tonight,” said Lady Cats coach Caitlyn Burson. “We just kind of have to reset. We’re going to watch some things where we weren’t moving our feet and stuff like that and just try to move forward and focus more on the things that we did in our game last night.”

South Central put the Lady Cats in a deep hole to begin the first game, and the Cats didn’t help themselves either, at one point committing four straight hitting errors, getting down by seven, 9-2. The Lady Cats finally found some traction and scrapped their way back to close the gap to one, 11-10, following a double-hit by the Lady Rebels.

After several minutes North Harrison finally rallied back to tie at 18 and briefly took a one-point edge, 19-18, following a Lady Rebels’ error. North Harrison’s Bri Fawver hit out of bounds for a 19-19 tie, then Andrea Ness hit out to put South Central back in front. The Lady Rebels erred again on their next side-out, but Makaylie Patterson came up with a save that dropped in for a point to keep South Central in the lead. Moments later, Morgan Friedholdt punched in a kill to spark a 3-0 burst for a one-point Lady Cats’ edge.

There were two more ties, at 24 and 25, but then South Central committed two final errors allowing North Harrison the win, 27-25.

“I was very proud of how they moved,” said Sims. “We’ve really worked on moving on the floor. They did a great job in a lot of it. It was just some silly mistakes.”

“I don’t even know how many malfunctions we had, but I would say it was over 50,” Burson said. “We had a lot in the first set, and I just think it set the tone for the rest of the night.”

The Lady Cats had a better start to game two and ran out to a 7-1 lead to begin the set. The Lady Cats made another run, this time 6-0, to push their advantage to 16-7. North Harrison kept South Central off balance through the entire game and put up a 25-18 win on the scoreboard.

“They just lose a little confidence,” Sims said. “Our setter (Brooklyn Lewis) being called for a lot of double hits, that takes a lot of energy. She was very frustrated. That kind of affects the whole team. When we’re not confident in setting the ball up, then my attackers are not confident in attacking. So, that really hurt us.”

North Harrison got another good start in game three with Molly Coomer punching in two service aces during a 6-1 run. South Central closed the game back to two, but later the Lady Cats made another run that put them back up by eight, 13-5.

Just past midway through the match, Friedholdt rolled an ankle while attempting to block at the net. North Harrison stumbled through its next few points as South Central closed the gap to three, 17-14.

North Harrison later built up a five-point advantage once again, but that lasted only briefly as Megan Wibbels drilled a kill and delivered a service ace, cutting the gap to three. The two teams then went through a trading session to 24-21. Ashton Blackburn had the final kill for the night as the Lady Cats secured the 25-21 win.

“My libero (Alexis Martin), we’ve really worked quite a bit lately on her being able to cover and getting around,” Sims said. “Some of my kids are playing full rotation and really working on what it looks like and getting that ball up and really helping the rest of our team, talking and working together. As hard as it was to lose some of our players, it’s really kind of benefited the girls in their overall play.”

“This week and last week both we’ve had two go out in the middle of a set, and it’s taken us a little bit to adjust,” Burson said of the injuries. “But, we’re trying to make that work in practice, making smoother transitions with our subs.”

Friedholdt and Fawver led North Harrison with seven kills each. Maddie Liebert finished with six kills, and Ashton Blackburn had five kills. Emma Schneider had four kills, and Coomer delivered four aces on serve. North Harrison had six service aces on the night but misfired on eight serves. The Lady Cats finished with 34 hitting errors.

“That’s always frustrating for our offense for whenever they can’t put anything down,” Burson said. “But, we also hit a lot out too, so we just couldn’t get into a rhythm offensively simply because we couldn’t find holes that weren’t outside of the floor.”

Patterson and Haley Kiper had five kills each for the Lady Rebels. South Central misfired on seven serves and delivered four service aces. The Lady Rebels were also heavy on errors with 30 for the night.

“Amber Watson served 100%, which was fantastic, my libero,” Sims said. “Kendall Kiper had 15 digs, which is great. Brooklyn (Lewis), even with the errors, still had nine assists … We moved it around, and that’s what we’ve really worked on, them moving it around. Every single one of my front-row players had kills. That has kind of been our push, and I feel like that was our strong suit.”

Burson said the match was just a bad night and one the Lady Cats would forget and take away the good things that happened the night before against West Washington.

“I don’t want to take away from what they did last night because last night was a really strong showing, so I’m going to try not to focus on this too much and try to build on what we did well the night before,” she said. “I think it’s hard when you go through two nights in a row and you’re starting to get a little bit tired and we need to get our legs back under us. … ”

Next up for the Lady Cats will be a contest tomorrow (Thursday) at 6 p.m. at Charlestown. The Lady Rebels are also scheduled to play tomorrow, at Rock Creek Academy at 6 p.m.

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