Rebuilding North Adams squad gets win #8 on the road –
By Mark Carpenter –
This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for Coach Katie Ragan and her North Adams Lady Devils volleyball squad, losing all six starters from last season, but if early returns are any indication, the rebuilding process is going quite well in Seaman, On Tuesday, Sept. 11, Ragan and her troops picked up their eighth win in nine outings as of press time, going on the road to defeat the Manchester Lady Greyhounds in four set, 25-12, 25-11, 22-25, 25-17.
This all-county Southern Hills Athletic Conference tussle began with a first set that wasn’t the prettiest, the two teams struggling at the service line and combining for eight service error, eight free points for both sides. Two aces by DeLaney Harper propelled North Adams to a 7-2 advantage, but the Lady Hounds fought back with a kill from Aaliyah Smith and an ace from Abby McFarland, but the Lady Devils refused to give up their lead, going up 13-6 after three consecutive service points from freshman Myla Toole.
Aided by a Harper kill, the visitors moved in front 17-8 and then continued to stretch that margin with some inspired play at the net from senior Christin Young. A Young kill gave North Adams a 22-11 lead and then the senior came up with a block and a kill for the final two points of the set, one that ended in a 25-12 win for the Lady Devils.
After the first set triumph, the Lady Devils came out on fire in the second set, racing to a 13-2 lead, again with Young leading the way with three kills and Harper adding six service points. The end of the second set closely resembled the end of the first, as a kill and a block by Young wrapped up a 25-11 North Adams win, putting them up 2-0 in the match.
“We missed more serves tonight than we usually do, but as a floor game and working together, we played really good the first two sets,” said Coach Ragan after the match. “Those first two sets may have been as good as we played all season. Then our serving and hitting went a little downhill.”
With their backs to the wall, the Lady Hounds were rejuvenated in the third set and stayed alive in the match. Strong work at the service line from Smith and Macy Huron kept the scoreboard close, though the Lady Devils led 15-13 after four points off of Desiree Ison serves. Later in the set, Manchester’s Brooke Kennedy stepped up to serve and reeled off four straight to put her team up 21-20. After the Lady Devils tied the set at 21, the Lady Hounds picked up four of the set’s final five points and forced a fourth set with a 25-22 victory.
“After that third set, we started worrying a little bit,” said Ragan. “Once you make a couple of mistakes, you start to think about it, and it just snowballs.”
In what turned out to be the night’s final set, the North Adams squad jumped in front 9-4 on the strength of Sierra Kendall serves and Wylie Shipley kills and the Lady Hounds never recovered, though they prolonged the inevitable with aces from Melanie Thatcher and Kylie Abbott, and actually closed the gap to 20-16 on a kill by Madison Jones. But that was all the Lady Devils allowed, finishing the set with three service points from Toole in a 25-17 win that gave them the match, three sets to one.
On the stat sheet, the Lady Devils were paced by Harper’s 13 kills, 7 aces, and 2 blocks, with Young having perhaps her best match of the season, contributing 11 kills and a pair of blocks. Kendall dished out 39 assists and added 18 digs.
“Christin played really well the first two sets, especially considering she was across the net from Brooke Kennedy, who is several inches taller,” said Coach Ragan. “But Christin still did a great job of getting the ball around her and getting points.”
The win improved North Adams to 8-1 on the season, 7-1 in the SHAC, and they were right back in action the next night with a non-conference match at Huntington. (The results were not available at press time). On Friday, Sept. 14, the Lady Devils were back in the SHAC, hosting the Lynchburg Clay Lady Mustangs.
The Lady Hounds dropped to 6-4 on the year, 4-3 in conference play.
In the JV match, the Manchester girls continued to roll, improving to 8-1 with a 25-21, 25-18 victory.