Floyd wins holiday weekend slugfest
By Wade Bell, Sports Writer
The Floyd Central and Silver Creek volleyball teams provided the Labor Day weekend fireworks in a slugfest that went the distance with the Lady Highlanders outlasting the hosts in five, hard-fought games. The match was a makeup from earlier in the season when the Lady Dragons volleyball team had to be put in quarantine following exposure to the coronavirus.
“Silver Creek’s defense was really good tonight,” said Floyd Central coach Bart Powell. “Their first-ball contact was exceptional. They were doing a really nice job. We finally got it turned on. We could have lost that match and outscored them.”
The Lady Highlanders didn’t get the best of starts in the first set, and Silver Creek took advantage, pushing to a 14-8 lead. Powell called timeout to hopefully break the Lady Dragons’ momentum, but Silver Creek stayed on pace to keep its distance. It wasn’t until late in the game that Floyd Central finally got some traction for four kills to close the gap to three, 24-21. The Lady Dragons committed a hitting error on the next sideout, but a kill by Bella Hinton put away the set for the Lady Dragons for a 25-22 win.
“We’re ragged,” said Powell. “Look out there. I’m playing five or six sophomores and a freshman. It’s a young bunch. They’re not all in there together, but they know how good Silver Creek’s program is. We were certainly flat. We practiced beforehand and I thought things were good, but we were a little flat starting out.”
Floyd Central’s players came out with more fire in their bellies in game two and went through a swap meet through the first third of the set. Two errors by the Lady Dragons and kills from the Lady Highlanders allowed Floyd Central a 12-7 edge. Floyd Central pushed its lead to eight moments later on kills by Jenna Heidbreder and Natalie Lostutter. Silver Creek countered with a 4-0 burst. Silver Creek, however, failed to keep that momentum going and fell by a 25-16 decision.
Powell said senior Kayden Holcomb gave a big lift to his team in the second set with her attacks at the net.
“She did, and so did Kaylee Hunt for that matter,” he said. “Both middles gave us a big spark in the second set. When you’re out of system, you’ve got to have your lefts taking big swings, and we’re not taking those swings. We’re going to work on it and get it fixed.”
Besides having a young team, Powell has also had to deal with injuries to two of his starters. Keegan Kaiser has been out with a leg injury, and Kira Sharp had shoulder surgery and is out for the season.
“(Keegan’s) got to get back into volleyball mode, and it’s probably going to be a month,” said Powell. “She’s got a procedure that they’re going to do (Tuesday), and I don’t know how quickly she’ll be able to practice. She’s got to get 100 practices in, and we only practice one, two or three times in the next couple of weeks, so it’s going to take her four weeks to get back.”
“We lost Kira Sharp,” Powell said. “She tore her labrum. She’s a junior, and she led us in kills last year as a sophomore. That was a big loss. I’m just trying to take it one game at a time.”
The pace picked up in games three and four. Silver Creek bounced back in the third set for a 25-21 win. In game four, the Lady Highlanders dominated getting an eight-point advantage and going on to win 25-17.
Floyd Central began game five by getting a four-point cushion on three straight kills by Holcomb, Caroline Hilbrich and Emily Cook. Silver Creek later closed the distance to two following a kill by Maddie Hunter and a Floyd Central error, but the Lady Highlanders continued to attack and made a run for a 12-7 lead. Silver Creek responded with three straight points. It was the final points for the Lady Dragons, however, as Floyd Central went on for the 15-10 game and match win, with Courtney Combs delivering a final service ace.
“Obviously, we made some good adjustments in the fourth set and in the fifth set, and it paid off,” said Powell. “They did listen to us. They didn’t listen to us a couple of times. When you come into Silver Creek and win, it’s a good win.”
Holcomb led the Lady Highlanders with 14 kills, and Hunt followed with 11 kills. Hilbrich punched in 10 kills, while Heidbreder and Kylie Minnis finished with seven kills each. Lostutter added six kills for the match. Floyd Central misfired on 11 serves but delivered nine service aces. The Lady Highlanders had 34 errors for the five games.
Powell said Hilbrich, a libero, did a good job keeping Silver Creek’s players on their heels with her serving.
“She missed one at the end, but that’s why she’s serviing first,” he said. “She’s got a lot of pace on the ball. She did a really nice job being libero tonight. Tonight is really the first night I’ve used a libero. She did a really nice job and didn’t run out of gas on me. She made three great digs in the fourth set on the same play. She gave us a little energy. We kind of pulled away after that.”
Anna Dablow led Silver Creek with 13 kills, and Hinton had 12 kills. Macy Ferrell finished with seven kills for the Lady Dragons, who misfired six times on serve and delivered four service aces. Silver Creek had 35 errors for the five games.
Powell said he wants his young team to learn how to find their own solutions to certain game situations. Some of his players are getting a baptism by fire playing against some of the top teams in both the state and country.
“I tried to let them work themselves out,” he said. “You could see I was sitting there. I didn’t want to lose tonight, so I kind of picked it up a little bit. It’s baby steps. Two weeks ago we played the No. 1 team in the country (Hamilton Southeastern in Indianapolis), and we played them OK. Then, we made some bigger steps. Then, we’ve taken three days off and we took a step backward tonight. We made some progress after that, but we take two forward and one backward. But, it was a good win tonight.”