Ladybirds fall to Lady Demons in 4 sets
Posted on December 9, 2020
Fike's Kendall Harris (10) attempts to get a set up during Monday's 3-A Big East Conference match against Southern Nash. Fike won in four sets. Jimmy Lewis | Restoration NewsMedia
Perhaps the first set came a bit too easy for the Fike High varsity volleyball team Monday night and served as a false indicator that matters would be as simple as they were the first time the Lady Demons opposed 3-A Big East Conference rival Southern Nash.
Instead, Fike descended into a lack of communication in the second and third sets before an emboldened Ladybirds attack saw the third set and a potential lead slip away due to inaccuracy on the attack.
The Lady Demons, who glistened from the service line in the first set, picked up that proficiency again in the fourth set in overcoming their mid-match maladies, pulling away for a 25-7, 11-25, 25-21, 25-11 decision that sent Fike back above the .500 mark at 4-3 in opening the second half of conference play.
Southern Nash dropped to 2-3, all in conference play to date due to COVID-19 scheduling constrictions.
“I wish I knew what happened in the second game,” first-year Fike head coach Jeff Nelson said. “It may be that first game where we won like 25 to 8 or 9, we just started thinking it was easy. And I told them after the first game, ‘Don’t do this.’ We’re our worst enemy, because in that second game, we were hitting everything out of bounds. We weren’t communicating anymore.”
But in the opening set, the only communication required from the Lady Demons was that of the serve. Junior middle hitter Kendra Dumong helped boost Fike to a 10-2 cushion that was expanded to 20-6 by the work of senior Lindsey Curlings from the back line. Active at the net were Dumong and senior Makenzie Sadler. A Kendall Harris ace ended the first set.
However, the Ladybirds, bolstered by Fike inconsistency, gathered momentum in the second set. As Kierstin Cooper and Ricki Bartley became problems for Fike at the net, Southern Nash doubled up the Lady Demons at 16-8. Back-to-back aces from Alissa Bailey were part of a 9-4 close to the set for the Ladybirds, evening the match.
Fike’s problems almost transformed into a deficit after the third. Trailing 17-12, Southern Nash tied it at 21-21 as a lack of court coverage from Fike compounded its woes and forced Nelson into a timeout. But the Ladybirds could not extend pressure further, committing three consecutive attack errors from there and watching the third set end on senior Payton Lentz’s kill down the middle.
“If our hits weren’t on, we weren’t finding the holes,” Southern Nash head coach Melanie Davis said. “So we couldn’t get the go-ahead. That’s what struggled the most. One of the servers that they had was probably the toughest server that we struggled against. But once we passed the ball up, we had something to do with it, but we couldn’t quite finish the game.”
Fike’s proficiency from the service line in the first and fourth sets help mask hitting errors found in longer rallies.
“When we were playing the first and fourth game, we didn’t have any hitting errors,” Nelson said. “A couple, but when we were doing that, we were keeping the ball in play. We were making the plays. The second game, (Southern Nash) could have sat down and just died. But they didn’t. They came out, played hard and they whooped us the second game. We’ve just got to fix those little things that we were doing.”
Yet Southern Nash found itself unable to mount any threat in the fourth set. Sophomore Reagan Nelson had an extended run from the service line, boosting the Lady Demons to an insurmountable 14-1 cushion once she departed. In that span, Nelson produced four of her seven aces and exacerbated serve-receive difficulties from Southern Nash that were present in the first and fourth sets.
“I think it’s just all of us working together,” Reagan Nelson said. “When we get in our heads, it really affects us. I think we all got out of our heads, and it really helped.”
Sadler had five kills for Fike, with sophomore Avery Lentz adding four. Harris was credited with 25 assists from the setter position.
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