Four-set win over Eastern Brown keeps streak alive –
Story and photos by Mark Carpenter –
With their winning streak in the Southern Hills Athletic Conference standing at 54 consecutive matches, the North Adams Lady Devils varsity volley ball squad faced one of their tougher conference opponents on Aug. 31 and on the road, as they traveled across to Brown County for a match up with a very solid group of Eastern Lady Warriors.
The host Lady Warriors were geared up for the match, taking the first set, amazingly the first conference set that the Lady Devils had dropped in more than a year, but the North Adams girls roared back with a vengeance and grabbed the final three sets of the night to stretch the winning streak to 55, downing Eastern Brown 21-25, 25-18, 25-13, 25-10.
It was a huge night for North Adams senior Charlee Louden as she racked up 20 kills, 30 digs, and three aces, accompanied by teammate Avery Harpers’s 11 kills and three blocks. Senior setter Sydney Kendall was her usual stellar self, dishing out 41 assists and getting eight digs, while Brooklyn Stout racked up 24 service points and six kills in the win.
“Charlee is just really good,” said North Adams head coach Katie Ragan. “She got a little mad tonight and it really is just a matter of how much we want to use her on any given night. She can hit the ball hard and she rarely misses.”
“I knew that Eastern would be ready to play. I’d been trying to tell the girls that it was more than just a normal conference match and after we lost that first set, we decided to pick it up a bit. We thought some of the calls had gone against us so we used that as an extra motivation. Eastern really came to play so give them the credit.”
After North Adams took an early lead in the first set, the Lady Warriors battled back to tie the score at 10 after a pair of service points from Haley Fannin. With the score even at 12, the Lady Devils grabbed back the advantage at 17-12 behind four service points from Stout along with a pair of Louden kills. With North Adams later up 20-16, the home team rallied, reeling off seven straight points, six of them on Kaitlyn Duffey serves to take control of the set at 23-20. When North Adams’ libero Adison Wright was called for a carry on the set’s final points, the Lady Warriors had done something no one had done in a long time, knocked off the Lady Devils in an SHAC set.
In the unfamiliar situation of being down a set in conference play, the Lady Devils came right off the mat to start set two with five straight points on Stout serves, including a pair of aces. After Eastern got the side out for their first point, a service error gave it right back to the visitors and the combo of Avery Harper serves and Louden kills extended the advantage to 8-1.
The Lady Warriors regained their composure and scratched their way back into the set and later got five service points in succession from Fannin to grab a 12-11 lead. Back came the Lady Devils behind the serves of Abby Campton to retake the lead, and this time they were not to give it away, finishing off the set with three Kendall serves to wrap up a 25-18 victory to even the match.
“I was really pleased with the way we started the second set,” said Ragan. “We came out and got fired up and really started pushing and running our offense well and started passing, hitting, and everything. They took the lead back and we responded again which I was very happy with.”
That second set did pump some fire into the visiting Lady Devils as they came out and dominated the final two sets of the match. The third set was close until about halfway through when a kill by Louden gave the serve to Harper and she took control with six straight, a stretch where Louden also dominated with three kills and North Adams led 21-12. After an Eastern point, the Lady Devils finished the set off with Kendall serving yet again, winning 25-13 to go up 2-1.
Now with number 55 firmly in their sights, the North Adams girls took total control early in the fourth set, riding a string of 10 consecutive service points from Stout to an 11-1 advantage. Eastern fought back to draw within 12-6 before a trio of Kendall service points pushed the lead back to double digits for the Lady Devils at 16-6.
Louden took her turn at the service line, showing her all-around talents, and running off four straight to keep the lead at 21-8 and the set and match ended with freshman Delaney Harper at the service line, getting the match’s final three points as the Lady Devils rolled 25-10 in the fourth set and took the match 3-1.
The win improved the Lady Devils to 3-1 on the season, their only loss coming in a non-conference match with Piketon. The Lady Devils and Lady Warriors got little time to rest from each other as they met for the second time this season on Tuesday, Sept. 5.
“That should be fun,” added Coach Ragan. “Eastern is getting better, they have some kids who really worked hard in the off season and they will give us a battle.”
Look for a report on that battle in the Sept. 10 weekend edition of The People’s Defender.