20-3 Lady Devils move to district play –
Story and photos by Mark Carpenter –
The result should have been expected. Put the North Adams Lady Devils volleyball squad on the floor with an opponent from the Southern Hills Athletic Conference and the result is usually the same. After recently winning their 52nd consecutive SHAC match and earning their fourth consecutive gold ball trophy, the Lady Devils found themselves matched up in a Division III sectional final with an SHAC opponent on Oct. 22, the Eastern Brown Lady Warriors, and as they have done to every conference foe in 2016, the Lady Devils claimed a victory in three sets, 25-17, 25-18, 25-10.
It was strong play at the net all afternoon that led the Lady Devils to victory, with the combination of Madison Jenkins and Charlee Louden garnering 23 kills, while junior setter Sydney Kendall contributed 32 assists as the North Adams Girls captured the Division III sectional title.
“I thought Eastern played really well today,” said North Adams head coach Katie Ragan. “They seemed to get a hand on a lot of balls that normally go to the floor. We had to play some longer rallies in order to get points and I thought their defense was good and especially the first set when they forced into more errors than I like to see.”
“Madison does a really good job for us up at the net and her serving and hitting percentages have improved this year. Charlee jumps very well and Brooklyn Stout does a great job of hitting between the block, so they complement each other well.”
The tone of the day was set early in the first set when North Adams grabbed a 4-0 lead behind the strong serves of Abby Campton. The Lady Warriors showed resiliency and bounced back quickly, taking a 5-4 advantage on four service points from Maggie Fultz. The set remained close, mainly because both sides were having serving issues, combining for nine service errors.
An ace by Jenkins kept North Adams in front, but again the visiting Eastern girls fought back, pulling within 14-13 on a Mikayla Farris kill. After Coach Ragan used a timeout, the Lady Devils reeled off seven of the next eight points, getting four aces in succession from Jenkins at the service line to take control of the set. Kills by Louden and Avery Harper gave the home team a 23-16 lead and the first set ended with a service ace by Louden that gave the Lady Devils a 25-17 win.
The beginning of the second set resembled that of the first as the two teams went back and forth, with North Adams going up 7-4 on a quartet of service points from Jenkins combined with a Louden kill. With North Adams up 9-7, the Lady Warriors rebounded with five straight, spurred by the serves of Sydney Dotson, but with Brooklyn Stout up to serve, the Lady Devils took back the advantage at 15-13, but again the combination of Jenkins serving and Louden hitting clicked and pushed the North Adams lead to 19-14.
The Lady Devils maintained that margin and after two Eastern points, kills by Harper and Stout plus a pair of Kendall service points gave the hosts a 25-18 win and a commanding two sets to none lead in the match.
Up by two sets and smelling blood, the Lady Devils jumped out early in the third set behind the serves of Campton, leading 10-4 and forcing an Eastern timeout. After the timeout, the Lady Warriors regained some of their composure and with a nice block by Haley Fannin, drew within 11-6, but the Lady Devils always seemed to have an immediate answer and four service points from Maddie Toole made it 19-8 and the season of the Lady Warriors was fading fast.
Toole’s streak of service points stretched out to seven and made it 22-8, and two more kills by Jenkins and a nice tip to an open spot by Stout slammed the door shut and gave the Lady Devils another straight set win at 25-8, and more importantly gave North Adams another Southeast District Division III sectional championship.
“My girls love the game of volleyball and they work at it a lot,” said Coach Ragan. “They work very well together and we have had quite a bit of success lately and hopefully that will continue.”
The win moved the number three seeded Lady Devils (20-3) on to the district semi-finals on Tuesday, Oct. 25 at Waverly High School where they faced off with the number two seeded Southeastern Ross, a team they knocked off in five sets back in the first week of the regular season. Look for a full report on that match in the Oct. 30 weekend edition of The People’s Defender.