Lady Cyclone outclassed by Daniel Boone

By Marvin Birchfield

   The Elizabethton Cyclones' volleyball season got started on Monday, but unfortunately it wasn't the start they had hoped for, losing three straight sets to Daniel Boone.
   It was a fast start that fizzled out quickly for the Cyclones in the first match, as they lost by a final of 25-9.
   "Overall, we weren't ready to play in the first game, and we gave Boone a lot of confidence. Their hitters were having a great time putting the ball down on us and we weren't doing anything about it," said Elizabethton coach Leslee Bradley.
   Elizabethton took a 4-2 lead in the early going, with an ace serve coming from Trish McNeely and a kill by Emilee Berry.
   Daniel Boone went on a 7-0 run to grab a 12-6 lead, as their 5-10 junior, Vanessa Kinsler, was smacking down the kills with no chance of being defended.
   After an ace serve from Alicia Crawford to pull within four, Elizabethton went on a drought to be outscored by a total of 13-1 in the last half of the first match.
   "When we got the opportunities we didn't take advantage of hitting the ball. We're a good hitting team, too," said Bradley. "We just tried to keep the ball in play instead of putting the ball down and being aggressive."
   The second contest was much better played by Elizabethton, but it was still unable to overcome the hard-hitting Trailblazers.
   A kill knocked down by Jennie Powell and an ace serve from senior outside hitter Rachel Osborne gave Elizabethton the early 5-3 lead.
   Daniel Boone came back to tie the contest at 9-9, when senior setter Laura Hilton placed the ball with Kinsler making the kill.
   The Trailblazers were having plenty success in setting up their offense, with Hilton and Jamie Massengill making the passes to the big hitters Kinsler, Haylee Collins, and Brittany Byrd.
   "We still have a lot we need to work on. Our cover-ups are not where we need to be, and our defense is still a little slow getting to some steps," said Daniel Boone coach Shelia Clark. "Our hitting and setting have been there."
   Elizabethton was outscored 16-6 in the final stretch, which saw some nice defensive work at the net from Brandi Forbes.
   "My net played improved a lot through the second and third games, so I think that helped us a lot," said Forbes. "I think we need to be better prepared for games, because we weren't in our first one today."
   The Trailblazers were the team to set the pace in the early part during the third set, which finally ended in a 25-15 victory for Boone.
   Boone jumped out to a 6-1 advantage, using a couple of kills and an ace from sophomore Emily Werner.
   "Of our six players, five of them were starters from last year, and every one of them was trying to get implemented into the game," said Clark. "I'm very tickled on how they played, sometimes disappointed in them slacking off, but they kept their intensity."
   Elizabethton was able to roll off seven straight scores with mistakes being committed by Boone, and three straight ace serves from Osborne.
   "I was feeling good with the swing, and that's really what counts with the serves," said Osborne. "It takes having the focus and being able to place it where the other team has trouble with hitting it."
   A block by Forbes on an attempted kill from Collins gave Elizabethton an 8-6 lead, but it was short-lived, with some tough play at the net coming from Kinsler.
   "If we could have been ready the first game, then I think we would have had a better chance beating them in the second and third games," said Forbes.
   The Trailblazers started hitting their stride after a 10-10 tie as Hilton and Kinsler teamed up to score four straight.
   Elizabethton pulled within one when an assist from Powell to Crawford made it 14-13, but Daniel Boone was able to finish strong just like they did in their two previous match-ups by going on an 11-2 run to end the game.
   "We didn't work as well together as we should have, and there wasn't much cooperation with everyone coming together," said Osborne.