Lady Devils survive five-set thriller

North Adams’s DeLaney Harper (23) elevates for a kill attempt in action from the Lady Devils’ SHAC match at Eastern Brown on Sept. 6. Harper and the Lady Devils were victorious in five exciting sets. (Photo by Mark Carpenter)

North Adams tops Eastern Brown in SHAC volleyball – 

By Mark Carpenter – 

A little bit of a cross-county volleyball rivalry has developed between North Adams and Eastern Brown and that rivalry was renewed again on Sept. 6 in Brown County as the Lady Warriors hosted the Lady Devils in Southern Hills Athletic Conference action. The two teams had met the previous Friday in Seaman with North Adams taking the match in three sets, but last Thursday’s match up for Coach Katie Ragan and her Lady Devils was quite the opposite as they were taken to the limit before finally getting their second win of the season over the Lady Warriors, taking the match in five exciting sets, 21-25, 25-17, 25-17, 24-26, 15-12.
“Eastern played so much better tonight than they did in our first match,” said Coach Ragan after the win. “They were all over the floor and we got frustrated early on because we couldn’t get our hits to go down, mostly because of Eastern’s defense. There were so many changes in momentum tonight, it just kept swinging back and forth.”
“This was so much more a defensive match than an offensive match. That being said, I’d like to see our offense improve some. Our girls worry and stress so much because they are young and inexperienced and haven’t played a lot of volleyball together, I just want them to relax and play.”
Looking for a taste of revenge, the host Lady Warriors grabbed the early momentum, taking the first set by a final tally of 25-21, but that loss seemed to light a fire under the young North Adams squad as they quickly roared to an 11-1 lead in the second set. The home team regained their composure and battled back to within 22-14 but when the two teams split the next six points, that was enough to give the set to the Lady Devils, 25-17.
In the third set, a string of six consecutive serves by Desiree Ison gave North Adams a 9-3 advantage, and a later kill by Christin Young kept the visitors up 11-6. The lead stayed in the four to five point range for the Lady Devils and a kill by DeLaney Harper made it 17-11. The Lady Warriors could never make any headway into that lead and another Harper kill was the finale on a 25-17 third set win that put North Adams up in the match, two sets to one.

North Adams’ Marah Call (24) goes up for a return attempt over the outstretched arms of Eastern’s Taylor Dotson in action from last Thursday night. (Photo by Mark Carpenter)

The fourth set began will kills by Harper and Wylie Shipley giving the Lady Devils the early 5-3 lead, and things really began to look good for the guests when three service points by Sierra Kendall made it 9-3 North Adams, But with their backs to the proverbial wall, the Lady Warriors came off the mat and behind some strong serving from Ashlee Minnix rallied to take a 10-9 lead, only to see a Shipley kill and a trio of service points from the NAHS sophomore give the lead back to her squad at 13-10.
With North Adams up 16-13, the Lady Warriors got on a roll and on a kill by Taylor Dotson, took a 19-18 lead to keep their hopes alive. Kendall serves and a Young kill gave the lead back to the visitors in this seesaw match, but with the match on the line, Eastern Brown did what they had to do and got some clutch play from Dotson and Minnix to forge a 24-24 tie, then grab the next two points, ending the set on a kill by Hailey Hampton, and sending the evening to a decisive fifth set with the 26-24 win.
Whenever a volleyball match moves to a fifth set, the pressure amps up and the margin for error diminishes quickly. The pressure seemed to first fall on the Lady Devils as they saw Eastern take a 4-1 lead, but Coach Ragan’s troops rallied, getting three kills from Shipley backing up Harper serves to take a 6-4 advantage. The action remained tense and no one took a lead of more than two points and eventually a kill by Eastern’s Mia Rockey tied the score at 11 apiece.
An Ison kill gave the lead back to North Adams and then the duo of Shipley and Harper took over, with a Harper ace and two more Shipley kills sealing the deal in the final set, with the Lady Devils taking the 15-12 triumph and taking the match 3-2.
“Nobody starts a freshman libero and a freshman setter like we do,” said Ragan. “We’re young and Eastern is young so it should be fun for the next few seasons.”
In the win at Eastern Brown, the Lady Devils were paced by Shipley’s 19 kills and 23 digs. Ison added 11 kills, 25 digs, and 4 service aces, while libero Myla Toole had 31 digs.
The win improved the Lady Devils to 6-1 on the season, 5-1 in conference play. This weeks’s schedule included an SHAC trip to Manchester on Sept. 11, a trip to Huntington on Sept. 12, and a home conference match with Lynchburg on Sept. 14.
(The North Adams girls picked up their seventh win of the season on Friday, Sept. 7, taking a straight set win at Ripley in SHAC play. Harper had 7 kills and 5 aces, Marah Call had 5 kills and 4 aces, with Sierra Kendall contributing 22 assists and 4 aces.)