Wildcats volleyball sweeps RaidersSeptember 23, 2021
By COREY STOLZENBACH
HUNTINGBURG - Southridge challenged Jasper a couple of times on the volleyball court Thursday night, but not enough to make it a close game.
The Wildcats (13-7) took a 6-0 lead on the Raiders (13-11) in the opening set, only for Southridge to collect itself after a timeout and rally on an 11-5 run to tie the opening set of the match, 11-11.
"It's just that's our typical start, it seems like for most games is we struggle on serve-receive in the beginning, fall behind, we dig a hole and then we manage to usually try to claw our way back," Raiders coach Mande Keusch said. "Sometimes we're victorious, sometimes we're not. So, it wasn't anything new or shocking to me that that's the way started. I wish we wouldn't start like that, but that just seems to be the way our team plays for whatever reason."
However, the Raiders would not hold a lead until the third set on Thursday, as the Wildcats responded to the tie on the first set by going on a 14-4 run to take the opening set, 25-15.
"I think the girls are really learning to stay consistent and stay mentally tough the whole entire time," Wildcats coach Jennifer Hohl said. "And they get good experience in games like this, and so I think that's where they really looked at each other - both the girls on the floor and on the bench and said, 'Okay, we got to buckle up and take care of business like we know how.'"
Jasper was firmly in the driver's seat after Southridge tied it in the first set, and that momentum carried through the duration of the second set. The Wildcats used their front wall to get the ball down at times in this set, and they ran away with the second one, 25-8. Hohl credited this to her players being aware of what's happening on the other side and where the ball is.
For Keusch, this was probably the most disappointed she's been in her team this season. She noted the Raiders have played some strong teams, only to figure things out as the night went on - but that wasn't the case on Thursday.
Southridge finally took its first lead of the evening when a ball on Jasper's side deflected out of play, giving the Raiders a 1-0 lead. They continued to ride the early momentum, building a 5-2 lead before it all unraveled from there.
"We finally had the first serve that Jasper had - we finally had a good pass off of it," Keusch said. "So, we can generate good, strong offense when we get a good pass - which leads to a good set. And we didn't do that 90% of the day today. So, we weren't able to give a very strong attack most of the time."
Jasper took the final set, 25-9, putting the sweep into effect.
"I think it was definitely a whole team effort tonight," Hohl said. "And they're really gelling well and meshing well with each other - and I think that's what it comes down to is the cohesiveness of this group."
The home stretch is nearing as just a couple more weeks remain in the regular season, and Southridge is scheduled to have three games in a four-day span next week - starting with the Raiders playing Monday at Tecumseh.
Keusch is hoping the Raiders will put this game behind them, just likes she wants them to put their mistakes on the court behind them. She said they'll keep working on fundamentals more than anything because they aren't passing the ball, and added it's important to put the ball in their setter's hand more at the varsity level.
"Hopefully, we bounce back and put up a little better game against Tecumseh on Monday," she said. "But it's going to be another tough one - we're going to have to play well."
Jasper, meanwhile, is set to have a shorter turnaround by competing in Saturday's Martinsville Artesian Classic.
"Going to Martinsville, we know it's a challenging tournament, and we welcome that challenge," Hohl said. "I think we just want to continue to gain that experience in difficult situations and difficult games - so then we can become comfortable whenever we do face challenges."
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