Manchester Coach Compton gets first career “W” in thriller –
Story and photos by Mark Carpenter –
Two teams both searching for their first win of 2016 came together on Aug. 30 at West Union High School as the Lady Dragons hosted county rival Manchester in a Southern Hills Athletic Conference match up. The night was memorable in the fact that the two teams battled it out for five sets, but even more memorable for the Lady Hounds first-year head coach Kaci Compton as she picked up her first varsity win as Manchester took the five set match 22-25, 25-19, 25-23, 16-25, 15-7.
“It feels good,” said Compton after the win. “I am very proud of the girls and their effort. There were plenty of opportunities to get down and lose their focus, but they dug in and fought for it.”
After splitting the first two sets, the third set saw the Lady Dragons take an early 5-2 advantage behind the serves of Jaycee Baldwin. In a match that was marred by numerous service errors on both sides, three consecutive errors saw the set deadlocked at 7 apiece. Later , a pair of service points by senior Brittany Caldwell kept the set even at 15, but Manchester’s Alyssa Hoskins served three straight points to then give the Lady Hounds a 20-16 lead.
With Manchester still in front at 22-19, the Lady Dragons got a kill from McKenzie Bickett and two service points from Alex Clark to again tie the set at 22, but miscommunication by West Union allowed a ball to drop on the next point and kills by Hoskins and Hannah Grimes gave the set to the visitors 25-23, and a two sets to one lead in the match.
With sophomore Kiersten Rowe at the service line, the Lady Dragons jumped to a quick 3-0 lead in the fourth set. A Grimes ace and a Abby McFarland kill helped the Lady Hounds battle back but a pair of points from the serve of Caldwell gave the home team an 8-5 advantage. Back came the West Union girls with Bickett serving to take an 11-7 lead but the two evenly-matched squads went right back to a deadlock on four service points by Manchester’s McFarland.
A nice play at the net by West Union’s Houston Adkins preceded a pair of aces by Baldwin and the Lady Dragons pulled away when they sent Clark to serve and she rattled off seven points in succession, aided by a nice Kendall Gallowitz kill to put West Union up 23-14. The Lady Hounds managed two more points but when they couldn’t execute a return, the match was headed to a fifth and decisive set, with West Union winning the fourth 25-16.
In most volleyball fifth sets, the team that takes the early lead seems to have a decided advantage. Neither team did that in this match as they went back and forth until the Lady Hounds went up 6-4 on two Hoskins serves and forced West Union head coach Debbie McClanahan to call a timeout.
A Baldwin kill helped the Lady Dragons stay close and a side out the West Union kept them within striking distance at 10-7, but that was to be the final highlight of the night for the home side. Manchester junior Katie Sandlin stepped top the service line and one ace and five serves later, the Lady Hounds were celebrating their first “W” of 2016, taking the fifth and final set 15-7.
“We just made too many mistakes tonight and you can’t win that way,” said Coach McClanahan. “We are a young team and we to stop getting frustrated and play like we practice. We just get shook up too easily.”
In the loss, Jaycee Baldwin registered seven kills with McKenzie Bickett adding five. Setter Kiersten Rowe contributed 15 assists,
Both teams were back in action later in the week, with the Lady Hounds dropping a heartbreaking five-set SHAC match to the Eastern Lady Warriors on Sept. 1, with Eastern winning 27-25, 18-25, 25-16, 15-25, and 15-6. West Union hosted Fayetteville that same evening and fell in three sets, 25-18, 25-22, and 25-19.