By R. Alan Richardson
After losing a number of talented eighth graders from a year ago to varsity action at the High School, the Middle School Lady Spike Dogs are rebuilding (maybe reloading) for the 2017 season. The squads (A squad and B squad) opened up their season last Saturday with a scrimmage and play day that included competition from Prince Avenue, Malcom Bridge, and Madison County Middle Schools.
Coach Alan Shultz said “The girls did a good job at the jamboree Saturday. It was the first time out for some of them as we have a number of new girls on the squad. The A squad was competitive in all their matches winning against Prince, losing to Malcolm Bridge, and then losing in a close one to Madison County. They’ve come a long way in the past two weeks. Our serving is stronger and we’re getting better alignments and how to run our offense and defense. Nerves seemed to get in the way of our B squad in the first match, but we played Malcom Bridge close at 25-23 in the second match. Madison County sort of overwhelmed us in the third.”
In the first regular season matchup, the girls took on East Jackson coming away with a comeback win. In set one the A squad went back and forth with the Lady Eagles and trailed 13-11 when East Jackson reeled off five straight points before Morgan took a timeout to settle the troops. It was 19-11 when the smoke cleared and things looked dark for the spikers. Service points by Angel Binion and Chesley Paschal kept the score close. With the Eagles leading 22-17, Ansley Shultz was given the ball on service and she came through big-time winning the next seven points to take the lead at 24-22. East Jackson added a point before Addy Christian ended the set on two serves 27-25. It was a squeaker.
Set two was just as close with Morgan pulling out a 26-24 win. It was a nip-and-tuck affair with several lead changes. East Jackson jumped ahead at 9-6, but Binion got her service game going to take a 12-9 lead. The Lady Eagles tied it at 13-13, 16-16, 18-18, and 20-20. Paschal and Presley Hill closed things out to preserve the win. Sara Crowley played a strong game at the net that included some wicked spike points.
Shultz commented, “I was really proud of the A Team after being down 18-11 in that first set. We got on a run and Ansley’s serving came through big for us in that set. We did a good job of running the offense within our system. That was good to see. It’s tough when you play against a team that doesn’t run much offense. We had to adjust to that first ball getting fired back over at us so quickly.”
The B squad didn’t fair quite as well losing in three sets 25-16, 15-25, and 19-25. Reagan McClain, Chesley Paschal, Rylee Knight, and Jillian Hunt were strong on serve in the early going giving the Lady Dogs a 14-8 lead. East Jackson answered the Morgan lead with four straight points of their own before McClain ripped off five straight serves for a 20-12 advantage to take a relatively easy 25-16 one set lead. The second set saw East Jackson jump all over Morgan at 8-2, a lead they would never relinquish. Knight got the team within striking range at 19-13 before losing 25-15. Much of the evening was rife with miscommunication with players not taking charge allowing numerous balls to hit the court. The third set tiebreaker was similar to the second. East Jackson took an early 7-1 lead that the Lady Dogs could not overcome. With the score 19-11 the Spikers got on the shoulders of server Paschal again who brought the squad within one point 20-19 before the visitors closed things out.
Shultz talked about his younger group, “I thought the B squad showed some growth. They served better today than Saturday and are getting better at knowing where to be. They still have to think about things and it’s a real distraction to them right now. Having to think gets in their way of playing instinctively.” Angela Stapleton and Carrie McClain make up the coaching staff along with Shultz.
The next outing for MCMS will be 8/23 at home vs. Madison County and 8/31 at Prince Avenue.