After winning 15 straight sets in volleyball, the Lady Eagles looked as if they might get their first loss of the season after dropping the first sets against Meeker Saturday. "Boy, that was scary," said head coach Krista Carsten after Paonia found themselves down, 2-0.
"I don't think we were ready to play when we stepped on the floor. Meeker was definitely ready."
Meeker had an answer to almost everything they put over the net, said Carsten.
Paonia had a negative hitting percentage in the first set.
That's something this year's team isn't used to, said senior outside hitter Carson Pipher. "They brought more competition than we've seen recently. I think we were really excited, not relaxing and just playing."
After losing the second match, 25-21, Coach Carsten told her players, "'You guys can choose how you want to respond to that.' They realized that they have the power to do that and control the outcome of the game."
After that, timing and hitting improved and the team was able to run its offense, said Pipher. "That is where our strength is this season." Pipher said Easton Hartigan sparked momentum with a couple of big hits, and they started winning. Paonia finished three straight wins (25-12, 25-15, 25-10).
Pipher, one of two starting seniors for Paonia, had 18 kills for the match.
She has struggled with timing her entire high school year, said Carsten. But now she's got it down. "She always wants to swing hard, but she's starting to recognize when not to. She sees that."
On a team replete with power hitters, Pipher stands out. This season she averages almost four kills per set. "We feed her a lot of balls," said Carsten. "She's that go-to player for us."
And while she focuses on her offense, Pipher also stands out on defense, averaging more than three digs per set. "She's quick on defense," said Carsten. "She makes it look easy."
In addition to playing at outside hitter, in five of their six rotations Pipher, along with Easton and Morgan Hartigan, covers the back row. Against Meeker they made 42 of the team's 46 serve receives, with four errors, allowing the offense to do its work. "They're great passers," said Carsten. "All three of those kids are competitors."
Easton Hartigan leads the team in serve receives with 111 — 33 of which she made Saturday. Hartigan ended the match with 13 kills, and had 33 of the team's 82 serve receptions with four errors.
Sophomore Jessie Holt continued her strong serving game, completing 18 serves with no errors against Meeker. Holt has had just one service error in 107 serves this season.
Meeker deserves a lot of credit, said Carsten. "They played a heck of a game."
On Sept. 10 Paonia defeated Norwood in straight sets (25-20, 25-16, 25-21). "It had been a pretty emotional couple of days for the team with the events of the Cedaredge tragedy," said Carsten. Norwood played consistent volleyball, but "We were able to hold it together to pick up the win."
After placing fourth at state in 2012, Pipher said this year's team is better than they were last year. "I feel like we're as strong as we were at state," she said. "We still have lots to learn, a long way to go."
Being down two matches was a good reminder, "To expect great things from every team," said Pipher. "We need to come out strong."blog comments powered by Disqus