Served up a loss

By: 
Sonja Karp

Sonja Karp

NLJ Sports Reporter

 

The serving woes continued for the Lady Dogies as they took on the Sundance Lady Bulldogs in their Homecoming matchup last Friday, and to make matters worse, the reigning 2A state champs gave Newcastle all they could handle right out of the gate.

“We really struggled to get going,” head coach Ashley Reed sighed. “The first rotation just killed us, and we got down right away in every set, after which we just couldn’t come back.”

Reed admitted that the player behind the serving line in that first rotation was good. However, she pointed to the absence of Madi Pearson – starting setter, outside hitter and overall leader of the team – as playing a big part in the Lady Dogies’ struggles. 

“We were definitely missing Madi,” she nodded. “Everything was different without her there. Our lineup changed, and her shoes are hard to fill given the consistency and leadership she brings to the court.”

Christina Hadlock replaced Pearson all the way around, while Honesty Olson and Jayme Cass took Hadlock’s position. Claire Beastrom moved into the outside hitting position instead of her usual right side, and the team ran a 5-1 with Isabel Frank setting in all but one position, where Olson took on that responsibility.

With just a couple of days to work together in the new lineup, the challenge of taking on a skilled opponent was compounded. 

In all three sets, the Lady Dogies found themselves in a six to seven point deficit before they could rally to put any points on the board. However, once they were able to oust the Lady Bulldog’s first server, they were competitive. 

“We were able to play pretty well once we got going, but you just can’t dig a hole like that against a team who can hold their own and expect to come back and win it,” Reed stated.

In the 17-25, 20-25, 16-25 loss, the Lady Dogies showed some good things with their net play, but serving was once again their Achilles heel.

As a team, Newcastle only completed 77 percent of their serve attempts on the night. The squad would get going on a run and then miss two or three serves in a row, which put an end to the Dogies’ momentum and resulted in a point swing in favor of the Bulldogs.

In the second set, Newcastle was down by nine points when Beastrom served seven times in a row, cutting the team’s deficit to two before losing possession. Unfortunately, with the Lady Bulldogs’ score being close to 25, the Lady Dogies just didn’t have time to make up the difference and lost the set.

A bright spot on the night for the team was consistently aggressive play on the net, which resulted in 18 kills on the night while committing only six errors. 

“Both Lauren [Steveson] and Grace [Coy] were swinging pretty big, and helped to keep Sundance on their heels a little bit,” Reed smiled. “Claire played pretty smart as well, which was great to see.”

Steveson ended the night with nine kills, while Coy chipped in four of her own as well as a stuff block. 

Though the contest did not turn out as the Lady Dogies’ had hoped, Reed pointed out that the loss had no impact on her team’s conference record and offered them an opportunity to try out a 5-1 offense, which may be an option going forward in the season.

This Friday, the team heads to Wheatland for their fifth matchup of the year where Newcastle holds the 3-1 advantage. On Saturday, the Torrington Lady Blazers come to town for a rematch in which the Lady Dogies are hoping to exact revenge. Game times on Saturday are early, with the Freshmen contest beginning at 11 a.m., JV at noon and Varsity at 1 p.m.

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