Streak ends: Carroll wins over W’town

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By Kristin Beck

The Lady Panthers volleyball team is back to its winning ways.

After losing 11 straight, Carroll defeated visiting Williamstown, 2-1, (18-25, 25-21, 25-21) Tuesday night.

“I think we finally turned a corner, and it’s been a long time coming,” head coach Kristen Hooper said. “I’m really, really happy with the way the girls played tonight.”

Hooper said she was thrilled with her team’s serving, as well as their aggressiveness at the net. The Lady Panthers (2-11) served 30/37 in play, including two aces, one by sophomore Kristen Amick and the other by senior Celess Parson.

In game one, Carroll fell behind early 3-8, forcing Hooper to take a timeout. The visitors extended their lead to 11 points, 9-20, and rolled to go ahead 1-0.

In game two, the Lady Panthers were determined not to be beaten again on their home floor. They jumped out to a 12-6 lead on a tip over the net by Parson, forcing a Williamstown timeout. The teams exchanged possessions back and forth, with Carroll maintaining a comfortable lead.

Down 20-13, the Lady Demons (5-9) regained possession and cut the lead to 20-17. Parson’s push gave the Lady Panthers’ back the serve, but they gave it right back after a shanked pass. Williamstown pulled to within one point, 22-21, but Carroll managed to get the serve back. A Lady Demons’ shank gave the Lady Panthers a 24-21 lead. Amick tipped the ball over the net on the final possession to score Carroll’s winning point, tying the match 1-1.

The Lady Panthers took an early 6-3 lead in game three before the two teams began trading points. Junior Caitlyn Burke extended Carroll’s lead midway through the game, serving three straight points, 14-9.

Trailing 16-12, Williamstown took over, forcing two Carroll shanks and delivering a kill along the sideline to take a 17-16 lead.

The next serve went into the net, putting junior Megan Harris at the line with a tie ballgame. Harris extended the Lady Panther lead to 21-17 before giving the ball back to the Lady Demons.

The visitors cut the lead to 22-20, but would get no closer as junior Erin Spradlin’s push fell to the floor in Williamstown territory for the final point of the match.

While the Lady Panthers have been known this season for allowing opponents to come back and overtake them, Hooper credited her team’s determination and smarts as factors that led to their win.

“We’re finally talking to each other,” she added. “Williamstown served some out tonight at key points and that helped to kind of turn us around a bit, and it’s us talking to each other and calling those balls out that made a big difference for us.”

The Lady Panthers broke their losing streak without senior Leah Chandler, who sat out with an injury. Hooper said Chandler began feeling pain a couple days after the North Oldham game and it has since gotten worse. This was her first full game on the bench.

“Having Leah out is a huge, gaping hole in our team,” Hooper said. “She does everything she can from the sideline, but it’s just not the same. Michaela Culver has been getting some varsity time in the middle as a middle hitter, and we’ve decided to move her to the outside as an outside hitter where Leah is and she’s really stepping up, especially for it not being her normal position; she’s really adjusting well. She’s such an athlete, I kind of felt confident with her, no matter where I put her, she was going to adjust. She’s done an excellent job.”

Parson registered a season-high five kills in the win, and senior Olivia Welch had two kills. Harris landed the most serves for Carroll with eight.

Hooper said her team really needed the win, especially heading in to their Carroll County Invitational on Sept. 24. “We’re really looking forward to it, hoping to, out of a 10-team tournament, come out on top. Definitely see that as a distinct possibility,” she said.

“It felt for a while like we didn’t have anybody who could put the ball away, and we finally have done that. We did that tonight. A lot of girls starting to step up, which is great; it’s never too late in the season for it.”