Games and matches can turn at any given moment, for any number of different reasons.
The Elkhart volleyball team found that out the hard way Monday, as the Lady Elks blew a 23-19 lead in Game 2 of their match against No. 9 Cayuga at Cayuga High School.
The Ladycats ended the game on a 6-0 run, taking a 2-0 lead in the match and seizing complete control in the process. Cayuga went on to the win the match in a sweep, 3-0 (25-13, 25-23, 25-17).
“It’s big, especially in the beginning of the season, because if you don’t learn how to win those games, then you get into the playoffs and late in district and you don’t win those things,” CHS coach Magen Humphreys said. “Win or lose, I don’t think it would’ve affected them as much in the next game as it would later on in the season.”
Cayuga cut the lead to two on a kill from Danielle Anderson off of a set from Molly Griffey, and then tied things up on the serve of Maci Poland, a serve that the Lady Elks couldn’t handle.
Poland then delivered a true ace to give Cayuga the lead — its first in the game since the Ladycats led 12-11 — and Poland finished things off with an ace to win the game, 25-23.
“I don’t know, it was such a down moment,” EHS coach Katie Lankford said. “I think we would’ve gone to five. They’re an awesome team with a lot of experience...but, if we would’ve won Game 2, it might’ve been different.”
Cayuga controlled Games 1 and 3 with relative ease.
The Ladycats only trailed once in Game 1, when Elkhart stormed back from a 7-5 deficit to earn four-straight points, three of which were Courtney Cheatham aces.
But, Cayuga then went on a 7-1 run to retake the lead behind kills from both Griffey and Anderson, and never looked back en route to the 25-13 win.
Cayuga took a big lead early in Game 3, all behind the serve of Cory McCulloch.
The junior libero served for the game’s first seven points, giving the Ladycats a 7-0 cushion. They’d need every bit.
The Lady Elks fought back into the game, and tied things up at 12-12 on back-to-back Robin Grant kills.
But, Cayuga retook the lead at 13-12 on an Anderson kill, and never looked back.
Cayuga went on a 9-3 run fueled by Elkhart errors, and then scored three of the games final five points to take the victory, and the match.
Anderson led Cayuga with six kills, while Griffey had two to go along with her 12 assists and two aces.
Griffey, who was in her first games since a slight injury to start the season, said she felt good on the court.
“I was okay at first, but towards the end of the second game I started cramping up a little bit,” Griffey said. “But, it’s nothing I can’t get through.”
The match was also the first real action for Cayuga star Shawnta Knox, who hurt her knee in basketball and was kept out of all spring sports because of it.
Knox finished the match with five kills and two aces, but acknowledged she’s not where she needs to be.
But, she said, she’ll get there.
“Honestly, I felt really good about it,” Knox said. “I know I’m not back to where I was, I’m not jumping as high but still, for my first full game, I’m not complaining at all.”
Overall, both coaches said they liked what they saw from their teams.
For a young Elkhart squad, it was a chance to match up against a strong opponent early on in the year.
“Our consistency is a lot better than last year,” Lankford said. “I mean, I’m completely, totally pleased with the way we played. We came up short, but as far as cohesiveness, as far as teamwork, as far as something to build on, absolutely (pleased).”
For Cayuga, it was the first chance for the team to perform under Humphreys.
“Shawnta was definitely clicking more with Molly, and so was Danielle,” Humphreys said. “And, our serves were more aggressive, which was what I wanted.”
Both teams are back in action today, with Elkhart hosting Rusk and Cayuga welcoming in Palestine.
The Elkhart/Rusk matches begin at 4:30 p.m. with subvarsity action, while the Caygua/Palestine matches will kick off at 3 p.m.
Coaches and/or team representatives are encouraged to call in scores and stats after games to 903-729-0281 ext. 242 by 9:30 p.m. after games, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Games and matches can turn at any given moment, for any number of different reasons.
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