LHS volleyball making strides at midpoint

Loudon High School junior Sarah Hood delivers a serve Monday in the Lady Redskins’ 3-2 loss to McMinn County High School.

The Loudon High School Lady Redskins volleyball team had a fifth season win at its fingertips Monday against the McMinn County High School Lady Cherokees but came up short 3-2.

The Lady Redskins took the first two sets 25-15 and 25-23 but faltered in the following two sets to lose 25-9 and 25-11. Both teams exchanged blows in the fifth set, but several self-imposed mistakes cost the Lady Redskins en route to a 15-12 defeat.

“We got a little complacent, and our defense struggled a little bit when they figured out we had holes in our defense,” Jody Bunch, LHS head volleyball coach, said. “They started tipping and we didn’t adapt to that at all. We also started making tons of mistakes, missed serves, hitting the net, over passes. They’ve got some big, athletic girls over there so you can’t really make those mistakes. I don’t feel that they beat us all that much — we definitely beat ourselves.”

The Lady Redskins front players Grace Hickman, Casey Kyle, Morgan Lanham and Kayla Irey provided a wall along the net throughout the match.

“I think they saw how strong our blocking was at the time, so they decided to tip to try and get around it,” Hickman said. “We couldn’t adjust to that.”

Despite having to completely change the rotation moments before the match, Bunch was pleased with the team’s effort.

“There were some definite bright spots, and we’ve changed up our rotation the last week,” she said. “We lost a couple of players (Monday) because they quit, so that kind of hurt the team morale just a little. We switched up our rotation, but we’ve got to do better. We’ve got to get more attacks. Our servicing and passing was good tonight, but it could be better. We’ve just got to get quicker on our offense. We tend to play down to who we’re playing, and we tend to play their speed instead of choosing our own speed.”

Although the Lady Redskins sit at 4-9 on the season, the team managed to pick up an essential win Sept. 10 against Sequoyah High School to move to 2-1 in District 5-2A play.

“The first part of the season definitely started out rough because we didn’t know where we were in the rotation, we weren’t sure on basically anything,” Bunch said. “Being off this whole summer and not getting that team camaraderie, not getting any team play days really hindered us at the beginning. Now I think we’re kind of hitting our stride. We are 2-1 in the district. We’re hoping with the new rotation and a little bit of a spark we’ll be back on top where we need to be.”

Hickman agreed and hopes to turn the corner Thursday when the Lady Redskins host Roane County High School’s Kingston Lady Yellow Jackets for a district rematch.

“We’ve just had to make a new rotation, but I think we adapted to it easily,” Hickman said. “We thought it was the best decision for everybody to do it now, and I think it worked really well. Yeah, I think we’re really clicking together and communicating better together and acting like a team more.”

Bunch believes the Lady Redskins have the ability to win the remaining seven games of the regular season.

“We’ve got two more games this week and we’ve got four next week,” she said. “It’s going to be a test for us, but I think the more experience we get on the floor together, especially in this new thing that we’re doing because only three players have played on the same court together before this year. We’re trying to figure out who we are as a team, and I think we’re getting there. It’s been slow, slow progress but I think we’re working on it. Looking at the rest of schedule, I don’t think we’ll lose anymore. Lenoir City will be tough, but if we’re on point with each other, we’ll be fine.”