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It was within their grasp, but the Lady Panthers could not manage to pull out a victory over border rival Trimble County, falling 3-1 Thursday night at home. Carroll won game two 25-23.
Carroll head coach Kristen Hooper said she was not disappointed overall, but in games one and three, in which Carroll lost both by just three points, 25-22. “I think our team doesn’t give each other enough credit, and I think that we were a little too timid, especially in game one,” she said. “In game three, I think that we didn’t talk, we didn’t communicate. We let one or two players control us for four games and that’s frustrating.”
While they managed to eek out a match win, Trimble was not on their ‘A’ game, unusually struggling in their serving. “We were just dead to the world, the whole team was dead to the world,” Staples said. “We missed 16 serves out of four games, that’s not like us.”
Staples said she did not know how her team did not lose the game. She did joke that she threatened to have practice the next day, a Trimble County day off from school, in the huddle. “They sparked up a little bit,” she said.
Despite being sick with a virus, Trimble senior Kelsey Courtney dominated with 26 kills and 10 blocks.
“She hits it where our girls aren’t, and she hits it quick,” Hooper said. “She’s quick at the net and she’s just a tough player, she’s a great player.”
As a team, Carroll County had 28 kills, with Kelly Layton, Ariel Hotfil and Karly Prosser each with 6. Layton also had three blocks, while Caitlyn Burke had 19 assists.
“I have to give Carroll County credit, they brought up everything we threw at them,” Staples said. “They played well. They missed probably a few serves too that probably cost them the match. When you have a serving duo like that, it could be anybody’s game.”
The two teams battled back and forth in game one. With a 17-14 lead, Trimble made three mistakes – a penalty and hitting two balls out of bounds – to allow Carroll to tie the game. Staples called a timeout to regroup her team, and the Lady Raiders responded by forcing Carroll to dive for a three-ball that hit just outside the line. Trimble’s Kayla Greenwood toed the line and served two points for Trimble before missing out of bounds.
The two teams traded points, and Layton blocked a Trimble hit attempt to pull Carroll within one. Sophomore Stevie Ogburn logged a kill to tie the game, 21-21. Trimble answered with a kill, and a Carroll shank forced Hooper to take a timeout.
Coming out of the break, Courtney logged a kill, 24-21. Carroll managed to get the sideout, but the Lady Raiders ended the game on the next play as Greenwood tipped the ball over the net just out of Carroll’s reach, 25-22.
Game two also was close up until about the halfway point. Down 13-12, Ogburn logged a kill to sideout and give Carroll the serve.
Carroll senior Megan Harris served five straight points before Trimble could get a sideout, 18-14.
Down 23-18, Trimble took a timeout to regroup. Coming out of the break, the Lady Raiders logged a kill to give the ball back to Courtney. Courtney served three straight points, including an ace that hit just inside the sideline.
Carroll called a timeout, and on the next possession, Layton jumped up and made a block to end the streak. Carroll’s kill attempt sailed out of bounds, giving the Lady Raiders one last shot to pull out a win. But Raven Hudson’s serve sailed out of bounds deep, giving the Lady Panthers a 25-23 victory.
Determined to vindicate the loss, the Lady Raiders came out on fire in game three, led by junior Paige Black and Courtney. Black served eight straight points, including three kills by Courtney. Carroll battled back within four points on a couple occasions, but couldn’t get enough momentum going to overcome Trimble’s early lead, as the Lady Raiders won 25-18.
“It feels like every time we come back for game three they’re excited and we walk out on the court and all of the energy, all of the life is sucked out of them,” Hooper said. “I’m not really sure what to attribute that to.”
Game four was tight, back and forth, with neither team really establishing a run. Carroll held four-point leads twice, but Trimble would rally back with an answer.
Down 15-13, Carroll’s serve hit the net, giving Trimble possession. Courtney served her team to a two-point lead before Hooper took a timeout and killed the momentum.
Still up two points at 19-17, Burke pushed the ball over for a sideout. Trimble was called for a lift and Ogburn served an ace, giving Carroll a 20-19 lead.
The teams traded points, and Trimble got the ball back after a Carroll serve sailed out of bounds. Sophomore Sydney Weaver toed the line and gave her team a 23-21 lead, forcing another Carroll timeout.
Out of the break, a Lady Raider shank on a hit by Hotfil gave Carroll the serve. But Trimble tipped the ball over the net into Carroll territory, 24-22. McKenna Ginn served the game-winner, and a Carroll kill attempt went into the net as Trimble won 25-22.
Hooper said that Trimble has had a great team for the last couple of years and have developed that “winning feeling.” “They come in here expecting to win,” she said. “We, on the other hand, are coming off of a tough season, and we’re re-learning how to win and how to be that kind of team. It’s part of the growing pains, I guess. … For not playing very well in game one, we still toughed it out.”
Hooper said she was veryproud of Layton tonight. “I saw her at 3:30 when I walked in here, we had a team meal before the game, and she was ready to go. The rest of the girls, they were ready to go too, but Kelly especially was very focused, which I like. For a young girl, you don’t get that all that often.”
Hooper also was proud of how Prosser stepped up her game after being blocked early on. “She came back and she wasn’t scared. She came back and she hit hard; that’s exactly what I want them to do.”
Hooper also highlighted Harris’ play, including some tough hits and serves she managed to dive for and scoop up. “Megan did a very nice job tonight,” she said. “Megan’s another one that doesn’t give herself enough credit; she’s so tough on herself. … (She’s) reliable. She’s there every day; she’s going to be a leader every day. She’s going to pass the ball every day.”
The Lady Panthers will play two straight road games – Owen County on Sept. 4 and Dayton on Sept. 5 – before returning home Thursday, Sept. 6 against Henry County. Freshman will play at 5:30 p.m. followed by JV and varsity.
The JV Lady Panthers extended their undefeated season to 8-0 by defeating the Lady Raiders.