After a pair of rough losses to Shelby County and Collins, the Henry County Lady Cats bounced back with solid teamwork to get their first win of the season at Gallatin County.
The Lady Cats were so strong, they took out Gallatin County 3-0 in the best-of-five match, that featured a dominant 25-9 second game.
Henry County got off to a slow start in the first game by going down 3-0.
But Krista DeBurger reeled off 7 straight service points for the Cats, and the team never looked back. With the score 13-9 in favor of the Cats, and having missed several serves and returns, Gallatin called their second timeout of the opening game. But Henry County continued to build the lead on two consecutive kills by DeBurger. The second kill gave the Lady Cats a 17-11 lead.
Gallatin County would not give in and came back to even the score at 18. But the Cats reeled off five straight points, again with DeBurger serving and the Cats closed out the first game 25-20 on a kill by Morgan Miller.
Henry County dominated the second game of the match with perhaps their best play of the season. The final score of the second game was 25-9; but the game wasn’t as close as the score indicated. The game included excellent setting by Savannah Allgeier and great killing and blocking by Megan Payton.
It would have been easy for Gallatin County to fold their tents after the second-game trouncing, but they showed great resolve in the closing game as Henry County held on to win 26-24. Payton was able to score on 2 consecutive dinks to give the Lady Cats the victory.
Ruff felt that more teamwork was behind the convincing win. “I feel like last night we really started to come together and click as a team. Instead of just one person having a good game, there was a team full of girls with a good game,” she said.
Ruff also felt that jumping out to a 19-3 lead in the second game was a key to turning things around. “After winning the first game and coming out so strong in the second game, I think the team is finally capable of seeing what they can accomplish if they put their minds to it and work hard,” she said.
Ruff was impressed with Payton, her tall, athletic sophomore middle. She said, “Megan Payton had some great plays at the net last night. She was focused and never got her head down when she made a mistake. She just went right back to it and made up for it with the next play.”
Ruff also noted that there are still things to work on. “We need to work on focus and determination. We have to come out in the third game with a killer instinct,” she said. “After such a big win in the second game we cannot let teams come back in the third game. We have to go out and get back to it!”
Ruff was also pleased to see that some of the younger players are beginning to look more comfortable on the court. “It is always great to see growth and improvement in the younger girls. They work so hard at practice that it is nice for them to be able to come out and show off their hard work,” she said. “Most of the varsity team has not played in the positions they are currently playing and several of them have never played varsity at all. I think the more they play together the more confidence they will gain.”
Trimble County 2
But the momentum of the Gallatin win was short lived: the Lady Cats fell to the Lady Raiders 16-25, 14-25.
For Ruff, the game was a step in the wrong direction after playing well against Gallatin County. “We came out and missed the first serve of the match, and immediately, that determined the outcome of both games. It was not like one serve cost us the game, but one serve visibly changed our attitude,” she said. “We got upset and could not recover. Calls did not go our way and the girls got flustered. I always tell them control what you can control, and in this case we just got upset about everything, and stopped controlling anything. We made silly mistakes, and just had a defeated attitude.”
“Trimble has a lot of talent this year. It was a tough loss, but it showed where we need to work. Most of our problem right now is attitude. We have so many talented players, but when there is no focus and we get upset with ourselves, and each other on the court, it makes it hard to win against anyone.
Ruff said that one player stood out on the night. “Victoria Marcum played great during the JV game, in fact before the Varsity game I told the team that if everyone played with as much heart and hustle as Vic, we couldn’t be beat. Vic came in for us in the second game of the varsity match. She rallied and tried to get everyone’s heads back up. She is always so encouraging and such a leader on the court.”
Shelby County 3
Against the Lady Rockets, the Lady Cats fell hard 15-25, 17-25, 10-25.
The lopsided defeat left Ruff feeling that the team came in mentally unprepared for the match.
“The team did not show up to play,” she said. “The games went from bad to worse! Shelby County got an early lead on us and anytime we would make a great play to come back in the game, it was followed by a mediocre play that cost us the ball and several points.”
Ruff felt that the previous night’s practice was an indicator of things to come. “We had a bad practice the night before, and the practice carried over into our game,” she said. “Our heads were not in it, and we did not come prepared to win.
Ruff did see promise from senior Makenzie Johnson. “Makenzie Johnson came in for the third game and really did a nice job setting, a position she has not had much practice at this season. She knew where she was on the court and had some smart plays.”
Ruff said she would like to see a little resolution and resilience from her team going forward. “The girls were getting upset with the mistakes they were making and got their heads down from the start,” she said. “I would really like to work on never giving up. We need to learn to fight for every point and not just roll over when the going gets tough!
HCHS 0, Collins 2
A slow start proved to be the undoing of the Lady Cats as they fell 18-25, 18-25 to Collins in Shelbyville.
“The first game started out slow,” Ruff said. “I think any time we play Collins we look at the front of their jerseys and think we are not supposed to win. I am trying so hard to change that outlook. We gave them too many silly points, and against a team like Collins you cannot give away free points because you will never recover.”
Sophomore Morgan Miller stood out in this game in the mind of the coach. “Morgan Miller really stepped up with her serves,” Ruff said. “When we were down she went out and really showed off what she is capable of. For a sophomore that has not had much varsity time, her focus was amazing.”
Ruff feels her team will improve because of the good things that occurred in the game and is looking forward to a rematch with Collins later in the season. “I saw some good plays,” she said. “We did some great fundamental things, but serving really killed us. We are still making silly mistakes that need to be cleaned up, but I can’t wait to play Collins again this season!”
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