MURRAY — Last night, the Calloway County Lady Laker volleyball team walked onto their home court with a little less confidence than they had on Tuesday. The Lady Lakers were up against the Hickman County Lady Falcons. Calloway lost 3-2 to Hickman early on in the season, and that was before they had lost two of their key players — Kylie Stallings and Ellie Jackson.
Emotions got the best of the Lady Lakers in the first set, and they fell 25-19 to the Lady Falcons.
Head coach for the Lady Lakers, Lindsey Jones said, “Our first set, we were a little down, but we just pulled them (the Lady Lakers) aside and said, ‘Quit worrying about the errors and just play.’ I think that really helped them tonight.”
When the girls returned to the court, Maggie Fraher was up to serve. Fraher is the best server for the Lady Lakers with a total of 66 aces for the season. She started off the second set with a 4-0 lead for Calloway. That lead would turn into a 25-11 second set win. From then on, the Lady Lakers battled with all they had and became victorious 3-1 (19-25, 25-11, 25-22, 25-18) against the Lady Falcons.
Beating a team they had lost to previously in the season, especially after being infected by the injury bug, says a lot about the level of improvement the Lady Lakers have had this year.
Adison Hicks said, “Throughout the season we’ve known what we need to work on, and when we keep working on those things, it just makes it all better.”
One of the major areas of improvement that Hicks noticed was communication.
“It was a lot better than the game against Marshall,” Hicks said. “Yesterday at practice, we worked on running through the balls, talking to each other. That really helped for this game because we were talking really well.”
“Communicating and picking each other up on the court and giving each other confidence and a pep talk, I think that helps,” Jones said. “When you know your teammates are behind you, that helps.”
Jones also noticed that the team was a lot more aggressive last night than they have been in the past.
“Some of our hitters were hitting fine. They just weren’t hitting as hard as the needed to, and now we’ve picked it up,” Jones said. “We’re hitting harder. We’re hitting smarter. We’re finding the open spots.”
Hicks was especially aggressive against the Lady Falcons, earning 22 digs and 22 kills.
“Tonight at the net, we went after every ball, and we slammed it down every time we could. Normally, if it’s really tight, we tip it, but we found a way to put it down,” Hicks said. “Balls that were tipped from the other team, we went through them, and we got on the ground, and we had more want to win, so I think that made us have more aggression.”
This sort of aggression was essential after the loss of senior hitter Jackson.
“It was a lot different playing without Ellie,” Hicks said. “We had to make a change, and we had to get Gracie Friedrich, and she just came in and did a great job blocking. Without Ellie, we don’t really have a lot of height besides Gracie Adams. With Gracie Friedrich in there, she got our block up there. She found a way to make them hit it into her, and she blocked it. EJ (Ellie) gets the set and she puts it down in the middle of the court where nobody can get it. Tonight, we just all knew that we had to step up.”
Jackson came to the game last night to support her team.
“The girls did great,” Jackson said. “I think that their court awareness was amazing tonight. There were multiple balls that were really, really close to the line, and Adison just knew that they were out automatically. The way that everyone was passing and serve-receive was good tonight. We’ve been not the best on serve-receive lately, and tonight was amazing, and I’m so proud.”
About court awareness, Hicks said, “We knew where we were more, so whenever there wasn’t a good set, or there wasn’t a good pass and the setter couldn’t get it to the right spot, we knew where we were, so we didn’t try to slam the ball down. Whereas, normally, if the ball’s off the net, we just go up and wail at it. For this game we didn’t. We just focused on getting the ball in the court instead of just hitting it somewhere that we wouldn’t know it was going.”
Jones is pleased with the amount of stepping up she saw last night and is glad to have left with a win, a win she said was much needed.
“I think this really helped because, losing Ellie, we were really nervous about how that’s going to look for the rest of the season,” Jones said. “I know that this helped them see that they’re still capable of winning.”