MOUNT CARMEL - Something seemed off all evening Thursday night as the Mount Carmel Jr. Lady Aces lost in two sets to visiting Olney, 25-21, 25-17, in a Junior High volleyball contest.
The loss drops the Jr. Lady Aces to 2-1 overall in the Jr. North Egypt Conference. However, if you watched and thought the type wasn’t as in sync, as usual, Coach Lisa Benedict confirmed why.
“We were missing one of our starters,” said Benedict referring to Rachel Johnson. “We had to change our rotation so that kind of threw us off a little bit.”
In the first game, Olney opened with a quick 3-0 lead but the Jr. Lady Aces battled back to make it a 5-4 lead for the Cubs after a tip from Grace Adams. Later, Olney extended the lead to 7-4 thanks to a back row kill from Avire Bradley.
Mount Carmel captured the lead early behind the serving of Kami Pearson. After a side out and back to back hitting errors by Olney, the Jr. Aces held an 8-7 lead. The lead, however, did not last long.
Further, into the Game, Olney’s Lexie Musser picked up a kill for a 16-11 lead for the Cubs.
“As a whole, we struggled trusting our teammates,” said Benedict. “That is a group that’s always reading each other’s minds and knowing what to do. It was just a little off today.”
Adams led a charge for the Jr. Lady Aces late as her kill brought Mount Carmel closer at 17-15. However, back to back aces from Musser forced a Mount Carmel timeout with the Cubs leading, 20-15.
The closest the Jr. Lady Aces would get down the stretch was a point after an ace from Adams made it 21-20 in favor of Olney before the Cubs went on to win by four points.
“We weren’t trusting our teammates,” said Benedict, “and making poor choices. [Our] passing was off and if our passing is off we can’t get to the setter and we can’t utilize our 6-2 hitter, which we need to do that.”
In Game 2, a tip from Stormie Devine made it 6-4 in favor of Olney early on in the set. Devine late picked up a kill as Olney still had the advantage, 10-6.
Mount Carmel to pulled to within a point midway through the second set. Behind the serving of Morgan Meadows, the Jr. Lady Aces picked up a side-out followed by a kill from Taylor Singer to make it 12-10, Olney. After another side-out to cut the Cubs’ lead to 12-11, Olney called a timeout and then forced a hitting error by Mount Carmel to end the run. It was the closest the Jr. Lady Aces would get the rest of the way.
“Olney received everything beautifully,” confessed Benedict. “They set it up with a bump, set, attack and we just couldn’t get that tonight.”
Singer was 5-of-7 with kills. Flynn Guard was 3-of-4 in kills and Devine was 2-for-2.
“That’s a group that’s so positive and they have fun even if they lose,” said Benedict. “They don’t like to lose, but they shake it off, say that game is over, let’s go on to the next one. They don’t dwell on this. They’ll think about it but they won’t dwell on it. We’re looking forward to Saturday.”
Adams was 2-of-3 in kills and Kenley Drone was 1-for-1. Meadows was 4-for-4 serving with an ace. Guard was 5-for-5 with an ace. Singer was 3-for-5 serving.
“We have a huge talent [level] on the bench,” said Benedict. “It’s not just that we were missing one of our girls, who is definitely a strong player, but we have a deep bench that we can pull from.”
Pearson was 7-for-9 serving and Adams was 3-for-4 with an ace.
“I love these girls,” said Benedict. “I think they have fight. They have great skill. I have really high hopes for them.”
Mount Carmel will compete Saturday at the Yellow Jackets Volleyball Tournament hosted by Allendale.
Contact Register Sports Editor Paul Wilcoxen at (618) 263-1004, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @paulwilcoxen