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Opportunity for wins slip away for Neal spikers

By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
Frustrated would probably be too conservative a word to describe the feeelings of W.S. Neal volleyball coach Kraig Rittenhouse after his team dropped both ends of a tri-match at Escambia County Monday.
The Lady Blue Eagles were bounced in the first match by the Flomaton Lady Hurricanes 25-10, 27-25. In the second match, W.S. Neal dropped a three-set decision to the host Escambia County Lady Blue Devils 25-21, 14-25, 15-11.
Several items led to the frustrating day for the Lady Blue Eagles (2-9). For one thing, W.S. Neal had only seven players available for the matches with two starters missing. Sixteen missed serves did not help matters either along with some key serve/receive errors.
Yet despite those factors, W.S. Neal had a 24-18 lead in the second set against Flomaton disappear and a 10-6 lead in the decisive third set Escambia County evaporate.
"We've had several matches this season where we've gotten ourselves in position to win, but we can't finish the job," Rittenhouse said.
In the Flomaton match, the Lady Blue Eagles got off to a sluggish start, especially on the defensive side. Flomaton built a 20-6 lead in that set, as W.S. Neal allowed six service aces.
For much of set two, the roles were reversed. This time it was W.S. Neal which built a sizeable lead, due largely to Flomaton defensive mistakes.
Four points, three of which were aces, by Reshena Young gave the Lady Blue Eagles a 6-1 lead. It turned into a six-point gap of 10-4 after a service point by Brittany Tagudar. The biggest margin was a 17-9 gap after a pair of aces by Jamica Thomas. Although Flomaton got within 21-18, an ace and two additional points by Abbie Howard appeared to put W.S. Neal in good shape with a 24-18 advantage.
That left the Lady Hurricanes with no room for error and they made no mistakes during a seven-point string that gave them a 25-24 lead.
A missed serve by Flomaton brought the Lady Blue Eagles even at 25-25, but W.S. Neal was unable to do any further damage. An offensive and defensive mistake led to the go-ahead and decisive Flomaton points to end the match.