By Mark Carpenter –
The new-look North Adams Lady Devils varsity volleyball squad took the court for the first time in the 2018 regular season on Monday, Aug. 20, hosting the Piketon Lady Redstreaks in a non-conference match played at NAHS. Lady Devils’ Coach Katie Ragan is replacing six starters from a very successful senior class and for at least one night, the “new” Lady Devils proved their mettle as they took down the visiting Lady Redstreaks in four competitive sets, 25-23, 25-19, 20-25, 25-21.
Every set on Monday night was a close one, with the two teams never straying far from each other on the scoreboard. In the opening set, Piketon led 9-8 before a Desiree Ison kill and a service ace by Sierra Kendall put the home team up 11-9. A later series of serves by DeLaney Harper kept North Adams in front 16-11, and a pair of service points from Marah Call made it 19-15. The Lady Redstreaks rallied from behind to pull within 21-20, but a Harper kill gave North Adams some breathing room. Piketon managed to deadlock the set at 23 all before a kill by Ison and one final point gave set one to the Lady Devils 25-23.
It was the home side jumping out early in set number two, riding the strength of Kendall’s serving to a 7-2 advantage. After Piketon moved back to within 9-6, the Lady Devils went on another run, again with Call at the serve, and raced out to a 15-6 lead, but their pesky guests chipped away at that deficit to slice it to 16-12, but again the North Adams six had an answer as a pair of service aces by freshman Myla Toole extended the lead out to 20-12.
Piketon grabbed five of the next seven points, but North Adams took three of the last five and emphatically ended the set with a kill by Wylie Shipley that sealed the 25-19 win, and a two sets to none advantage in the match.
The match didn’t end in three, however, as the Lady Redstreaks regrouped and captured the third set 25-20, taking the two teams to a fourth set, which the Lady Devils quickly gained control, again behind Kendall’s serves, moving in front 7-0. After regaining the sideout, North Adams continued to add to their lead, stretching it out to 12-3 with Ison serving. As they had all night, however, the Piketon squad bounced off the mat, getting five straight, before the Lady Devils could get the serve back and increase their margin to 15-9.
The two sides swapped points over the next few minutes of action, with a Shipley serve giving North Adams a 22-16 lead. Piketon hung tough, getting back to within 24-21, but when the Lady Redstreaks were whistled for a carry, it was the final nail in the coffin and the final point of the match, with the fourth set going to the Lady Devils 25-21.
“It wasn’t the prettiest of wins but a good start for us,” said Ragan after the match. “We are young and sometimes playing scared to make mistakes but we will work on that.”
On the state sheet, three girls led the way for the Lady Devils. Junior Desiree Ison contributed 17 kills and 15 digs, while sophomore Wylie Shipley added 12 kills and 13 digs. In her varsity debut, freshman Sierra Kendall began her assault on her older sister Sydney’s school record by racking up 46 assists and tossing in 12 digs.