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The middle school volleyball team split games with Gallatin County Thursday, as the sixth and seventh grade team won 2-0 and the eighth grade team lost 2-1.
Head coach Emily Brown said she was really proud of the sixth and seventh graders (2-3) and how they rebounded after losing to Williamstown the game before.
“They really struggled Tuesday night, and we really wanted to focus on getting our serves, getting three hits, and I felt like the girls really stepped up and worked really hard,” she said. “I’m really happy to see them win. That was their second win for the season, and they’ve been struggling a little, so I was really glad to see them be successful.”
The Lady Panthers built a four-point lead in game one before the Lady Wildcats came within one, 12-11. Carroll’s Cheyenne Lawrence served four straight points to extend her team’s lead, 17-11. Gallatin stayed close, but could not put together a run. Abigail Hotfil served an ace to close out the victory, 21-18.
The second game was also a tight one. Hotfil served three points to put Carroll ahead 18-14, and Abby Evans served the final two points to give her team a 21-15 win.
“I think Abby Evans is doing a really wonderful job,” Brown said of the sixth grader. “At every practice she’s always giving 110 percent. She’s always focused; she’s always here. … I see her getting better and better and better and always working hard and encouraging the other girls, and that’s the kind of player I really love to see.”
Overall, Brown was happy with her sixth and seventh graders’ performance. “I feel like they worked really hard,” she said. “They really took in everything that we did at practice last night, and I think they did a really great job.”
The match-up between the two eighth grade teams was also tight. Carroll started with a 7-5 advantage, but Gallatin fought back and took a 17-13 lead. The home team battled back, but it was too much to overcome. Gallatin won 25-20.
In game two, the Lady Panthers started behind, but Carmen McArter served six straight points to give her team a 7-3 lead. The two teams exchanged points, and Gallatin came within a point, 12-11. However, their next serve was short of the net, giving possession back to Carroll. McKayla Lillard served up three points for the Lady Panthers to give them a five-point lead. They maintained their lead for the rest of the game, and Sarah McArter served up the last two points, including an ace on her final serve.
“The girls aren’t used to losing,” Brown said. “I don’t think they like that feeling, nobody does, but I felt like they really listened, they stepped up, they got their serves in and I felt like they were ready to move and (were) much more focused that game.”
The deciding game three went back and forth, with neither team establishing control. With the game tied 9-9, Gallatin scored four straight points and forced a Carroll timeout. Unfortunately, the Lady Panthers couldn’t regroup, losing 15-11.
“They still fought hard, but I feel like sometimes another team wants it more, and in this case, I feel like they wanted it more and they worked a little harder than we did,” Brown said of game three.
Brown said the past few nights her eighth graders have not been playing up to their full potential. The team lost one of their starting setters, Miranda Groseclose, to injury, but Abby Miracle has stepped up and done a great job as her replacement, the head coach said.
“They’re great girls, they have great potential, they have great talent, but I just feel like it seems like we haven’t really been focused the past few nights and I was disappointed to see them lose tonight because they had been undefeated until now.”
Brown mentioned that the team (4-1) is very large, with some girls coming in with little to no experience, while others have been playing for years.
The past few games, the team has played really well, so she has been able to get everyone some playing time.
“Tonight unfortunately that wasn’t the case,” she said. “In tight games like these, you want to put your best foot forward, and I feel those girls are great girls as well and work really hard as well but sometimes you just have to make those choices.
“I think the eighth grade team is a great group, they work well together, there’s a lot of talent. My job is to try to prep them for high school and put them in game situations and help them improve their skills and I just want to see them improve and be better from day one and I feel like I’m seeing that. They’re all really working hard and I’m happy with the progress I’ve seen.”