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Spiked punch

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Connesville sophomore Tori Hanson (26) attempts a kill at Union County on Wednesday, while teammates Laina Fields (7) and Bella Baker (10) look on.
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Connersville junior Ally Bell tips a ball at the net in CHS’ match at Union County on Wednesday night. Bell and the Lady Spartans suffered a 25-23, 25-18, 25-14 loss to the Lady Patriots.
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Union County sophomore Kasey Lang completes a set against Connersville on Wednesday evening. Lang finished the three-game match with a dozen assists, second best on the team, helping the Lady Patriots earn a victory.

By GRADY TATE - gtate@newsexaminer.com

LIBERTY — Depending on which uniform you were wearing, Wednesday night’s volleyball match between Connersville and Union County either did, or did not, go according to plan.

If you were wearing UC red, the night ended about as well as it could have.

But if Connersville white was your color, many things could have gone better.

In the end, the Lady Patriots were the ones with something to celebrate, the team sending the Lady Spartans home smarting following a 25-23, 25-18, 25-14 loss.

“We flat out just got out-hustled tonight,” Connersville’s first-year coach Stephanie Smith said afterward. “Union County definitely plays with hustle and heart, so I can’t take that away from them tonight.”

Despite there being only five ties in the opening set, neither team was able to pull away from the other.

The final tie in the game was at 20-20. UC scored three of the next four points to build a 23-21 lead. Four serves later, the Patriots had win No. 1 safely tucked away.

Union County would build a lead of six in the second game, and led by 10 in the final set, but Union County head coach Joe Pavey pointed out he was displeased with inconsistency shown by his charges.

“We had a ton of service errors. I kept trying to tell the girls during time outs that they really needed to get out of their own way,” he said, following the match. “Volleyball is a team sport, and it’s all about getting into some kind of rhythm.

 

“We’d get a couple of points and then we would make a mistake. I just wanted the girls to get out of their own way and continue doing what they were doing when they were scoring.”

Coach Smith said she was equally alarmed that her team couldn’t do a better job on the other side of the net.

“We made a lot of mistakes as a team,” she said. “From serving errors to a lot of miscommunication and dropped balls. We were never really able to get on the offensive tonight.”

UC’s longest run of the night was six-point push in the second game, lifting the team from a 17-16 deficit, to a 22-16 lead. Connersville’s largest was also in the second set, the Spartans reeling off four straight to tie the game at 15-15.

The Patriots brought into the game a very young squad, the roster featuring three sophomores and seven freshmen.

“This group had a lot of success at the middle school level, and it has really carried over,” Pavey said. “I can’t say enough about what Jenny Moster still does for these girls, the work and hours that she puts in for this sport.

“You can really see the result of all of that hard work she’s put in, when they get to my level here in high school, and I really appreciate it.”

Two of those freshmen, Elyse Peters and Chloe Green, were two of the kill leaders for Union County in the match, both of them collecting nine. That fell one short of the team lead, as junior Grace Patrick finished with 10.

“Grace Patrick is one of my team captains, and I don’t think I have mentioned her in any of the interviews I have done,” Pavey said. “She is so steady and there is no one that I have asked to do more then her. It’s exhausting how much I ask of her, but she just goes out and gives it her best through all of it.”

Erika Smith paced CHS at the net, the sophomore collecting five kills and a pair of blocks. Bella Baker followed with three kills and a block, and Ally Bell chipped in a pair of kills.

“My blockers really stepped up tonight across the entire front row and I continue to see them improve,” Smith said. “Unfortunately, we don’t win games from just blocks.

“I do think that we are more than capable of playing on the same level but tonight was not our night.”

The win by Union County lifted the team to 5-1. Connersville fell to 1-7.

“I like to ramp it up against Connersville and Richmond, because I know that when we play them, we’re going to get one of their best efforts,” Pavey said. “They want to beat us, and we want to beat them.

“There is nothing wrong with the rivalry that we have with them. I think it’s great for the kids and the game.”