North Adams one win from fourth consecutive gold ball trophy –
Story and photos by Mark Carpenter –
It was yet another night in Adams County that combined the county’s love of sports with its love of giving as North Adams High School hosted the annual “Volley For the Cure” game, raising money for the Susan B. Komen Foundation and the fight against breast cancer. The opponent annually is the Peebles Lady Indians and the site rotates each year, with 2016 being the year for the Lady Devils to host.
Besides two volleyball matches to be played, there were numerous other activities planned, including a silent auction, a game called t-shirt spot serving, and the auction of two volleyballs autographed by the two teams, which together brought in nearly $2,500. All total, the night raised $4,824 for cancer research.
“Our team really loves the Volley For the Cure Night,” said North Adams head coach Katie Ragan. “The girls, their parents, and the whole community work weeks in advance to get everything ready for tonight. So many people help and donate to make it a wonderful night for us and the Peebles community. We had a great crowd tonight as we always do with Peebles.”
After a JV match won in three sets by North Adams, the two varsity squads took the court, both wearing special t-shirt jerseys for the night, pink for North Adams and white for Peebles. For the Lady Devils, the match had another bit of importance as they were again putting their Southern Hills Athletic Conference winning streak on the line, which stood at 50 before the match and was extended to 51 by evening’s end as the home team rolled to a three-set win over their guests, 25-12, 25-11, and 25-17.
The theme for the night would be the inability of the Lady Indians to handle the serves of North Adams and that was evident as the first set began when the Lady Devils’ Abby Campton, who recently set the school record for service aces in a single season, banged out three straight points to give her team an early advantage, even though their performance early on was bit flat, which led to Peebles rallying to take a 9-8 lead, but that was soon to change dramatically.
With the Lady Indians on top 12-10, North Adams senior Maddie Toole stepped to the service line, and 15 points, three aces, and a couple of kills at the net by Madison Jenkins later, the first set was over, with the Lady Devils taking a stunning 25-12 win.
The second set began nearly identical to the first as the Lady Devils grabbed the first side out and Campton stepped in to deliver four service points in succession for a 5-0 North Adams lead. With an ace from Sara McFarland and the strong serves of senior Brittany Lloyd, the Lady Indians stayed within striking distance, but again it was the North Adams serves that made the difference.
Leading 16-10, the Lady Devils again brought Campton to the line and again the junior came through, reeling off six points, including three more aces to add to her growing record, as the home team took a commanding 22-10 advantage. After Peebles got one point back, North Adams’ Brooklyn Stout served the set’s final two points in her team’s 25-11 win to go up two sets to none.
The third set was the closest of the three with the Lady Devils going up early 5-2 on the strength of two Jenkins aces. A pair of service points from Lloyd tied the set at 5, but a pair of aces from Sydney Kendall gave the lead back to the home side of the scoreboard. Back came the Lady Indians behind the serves of Hope Brown and Madison Pierce to trail just 12-11 and a later pair of service points from Baylee Justice put Peebles on top 14-13, but soon after the problems with the serve bit the Lady Indians for the final time.
With the set tied at 15, North Adams got three service points from Jenkins and then four more from Kendall and with the help of some strong net play from Charlee Louden, took a 23-16 lead. Two points later, a set from Kendall to Campton resulted in a volley that the Lady Indians could not return and North Adams had number 51 in a row as they took the third set and the match 25-17.
“Give Peebles credit,” said Coach Ragan in her postgame radio interview. “They were scrappy and they got after the ball and made things tough for us. We got blocked a little more than usual tonight and we didn’t cover the floor very well at times. It’s a fun night but it is hard to get them to focus on volleyball sometimes.”
With both teams knowing their postseason opponents, the task this week is to close out the regular season, and the Lady Devils were back in action on Monday night with a non-conference road trip to Northwest. Thursday night will be a big night for North Adams as a win over Ripley at home can secure their 52nd SHAC win in succession, meaning a fourth consecutive gold ball trophy.
The Lady Indians were in SHAC action on Monday night with a trip to Fairfield and then hosted Ripley on Tuesday night. A busy week continued with a non-conference home match with New Boston on Wednesday, before they closed out the regular season on Thursday night by hosting West Union.