Lady Cyclones succumb to Volunteer

Photo by Rick Harris
Elizabethton's Ashley Cline makes a dig in the Lady Cyclones' match with Volunteer on Thursday.

By Michelle Prater-Pope
The Lady Cyclones experienced deja vu last night as they lost three straight sets to the Volunteer Falcons. Adding to the coincidence, the score of the first set was identical to the first set of the Cyclone season opener last week against Daniel Boone, a 25-9 loss.
"They played very smart volleyball," Elizabethton coach Leslee Bradley said. "They went around our block."
Emilee Berry started the game out on a positive note for Elizabethton with an ace serve, putting Elizabethton on the scoreboard first, but the Lady Falcons retaliated strongly, knocking down kills and collecting points on Cyclone outs.
"Elizabethton has really improved," said Volunteer coach Tina Evans. "This is a tough little conference. It's like Leslee and I have said before, I think anybody is capable of coming up and beating anybody on any given night."
Elizabethton started the second set with renewed determination, as Berry knocked a well-placed ball by Jennie Powell onto the Falcons court, once again placing Elizabethton on the scoreboard first.
Brandi Forbes followed up with a block for the Cyclones that Brittany Mabe couldn't return, and a kill from Elizabethton's Rachel Osbourne boosted Elizabethton to an early 3-0 lead.
"I feel like I blocked pretty well," said Forbes. "Towards the end they started hitting around me and I didn't adjust too well, but I had a pretty good night."
Volunteer gained its first point of the set on an out from Ashley Cline, and Forbes put another point on the board for the Cyclones with another strong block.
"Their big tall girl [Forbes] had some good blocks against Brittany. (No.) Eleven's good at the net; she's tough at the net," said Coach Evans. "Double zero [Jennie Powell] had some hard serves."
"I was pleased," said Coach Bradley about the Cyclones' game. "It's the best we've hit the ball this year. I'm pleased with their overall effort. I thought we were competitive."
After the Cyclones' early scoring run, they were unable to hold on to the lead, and after a few kills by Brittany Mabe, including one off Alicia Crawford's head, the Lady Falcons took the lead and ran with it.
The Lady Cyclones stubbornly stuck with them, never letting Volunteer get too far ahead on the scoreboard. Trish McNeely made a valiant effort to pull Elizabethton closer to winning at the end of the second set with a kill, but the Lady Falcons finished the set with a 25-18 win.
The third set ended the match with a score of 25-12 in favor of Volunteer. Once again, Elizabethton started out strong, with a block by Forbes and an ace serve from McNeely, tying the score at 2-2.
Two Falcon outs brought Elizabethton further into the lead with a 5-2 lead, but an 11-point scoring run put the Falcons ahead. Two kills from Mabe and Ashleah Dykes cushioned the Lady Falcons' lead, and another seven-point scoring roll finished up the set.
Mabe led the Falcons in kills with 11, and had five blocks. Dykes followed closely behind with seven kills, and saving the Lady Falcons with four digs. Kellie Simpson and Ashley Bennett proved that teamwork pays off, with 13 and 10 assists, respectively.
"We're going to work on how to place the ball a little better; how to find holes in the other team and setting the ball up as often as possible instead of just taking it back over the net," said Bradley.
Berry led the scoring for Elizabethton with four kills and four aces. Forbes had five blocks, and Powell helped her team with seven assists.
"It was a good match," Bradley said. "It was a really good match."
"Anything can happen," said Evans. "I think it'll be an interesting little district."