MOUNT CARMEL -- Entering Tuesday with a three-game win streak, the Lady Aces were riding quite a bit of momentum. They faced a couple of tough challenges and couldn't keep the momentum going with a loss to Vincennes Lincoln on Tuesday and falling to Boonville in straight sets on Thursday.
The Lady Aces face a peculiar challenge, with Big Eight play they're forced to play in a best-of-five format versus Illinois' format of best-of-four sets. With the unusual change, undoubtedly the Lady Aces face some durability concerns in the elongated games.
"We have the good chunk of Illinois teams we play at the start of the season and all of the sudden we're thrown into Big Eight play and just this week we've had two Big Eight matches and an Illinois team," coach Kelsey Beckerman spoke of her team. "That's a lot of games and a lot of sets in one week. Again, we keep playing as hard as we're playing, I haven't seen them give up, just the tiredness come. So I think as we progress through the season conditioning wise will come a little easier. I think we have good things to come."
In the first set Mt. Carmel stayed within striking range much of the set. The Lady Aces failed to seize a lead for the entire set, they were on the brink with a 14-8 margin, but rallied back courtesy of three straight kills from sophomore Allie McPherson and forcing a Boonville timeout. From that point on they would keep as close as three several times, most notably 20-17, but failed to close the margin and fell 25-17.
Back and forth would be the best way to describe the second set, as the two teams continued to trade the lead and had multiple ties. Mount Carmel had the lead as late as 23-21 but allowed a 4-0 run late to fall in the set 25-23.
Mt. Carmel led early in the third set, but after a 5-5 tie, Boonville closed on a 20-12 run to take the set and the match.
"Just getting them to understand that we're still super young but we can play with teams in the Big Eight," coach Beckerman said. "Sometimes we walk into their arenas and they're nice and big and have some taller girls so we get kind of intimidated by that. It was nice to have Boonville at home tonight to show ourselves we can do this no matter where we are. Just instilling in them belief in themselves that no matter how big the court you're playing on, it's still a volleyball court. We still have potential to do some things to these teams."
Statistically the Lady Aces were led by McPherson in aces (two), kills (seven) and blocks (two), junior Kassidy Drone led in assists (21) and junior Addie Drone in digs (11).
With the loss coach Beckerman's squad fell to 5-6 and below .500 on the season. Even still, coach Beckerman's Lady Aces have accomplished quite a turnaround thus far. The young team has exceeded their win total from last season (4) and they're not even half way through the season.
"Last year we had a first match regional win," coach Beckerman said. "So for us [our goal is] just to repeat with that. What's going to happen at some point is we're going to come against Edwards County again, but we'll go back and watch film. They'll be better and we'll definitely be better than we were early in the season. Just being able to compete with teams like we did tonight and grow as a team, I think by the end of our season, beginning of postseason we'll be ready and where we need to be and spice things up a little bit maybe."
Next up for the Lady Aces, they travel to face another Big Eight opponent, Vincennes Rivet, one of the Lady Aces four wins last year, on Monday, Sept. 17 at 6:30 p.m. They'll return home on Tuesday, Sept. 18 to face Princeton at 7 p.m.