Class opens for Lady Eagles with loss to Central
By By BRUCE HIXON-Sports Editor
Class will be in session throughout the season for W.S. Neal Lady Blue Eagles volleyball coach Chuck Riddle.
With that in mind, Thursday's season-opening 25-14, 25-17, 25-20 loss to visiting Central (Fla.) should be graded an incomplete.
Although the outcome was the same, Riddle said the set scores indicated his team got better as the match went along.
Serving and receiving errors was probably the biggest area that led to W.S. Neal's downfall. The Lady Blue Eagles had eight missed serves and their defense allowed 13 aces.
On a plus side, W.S. Neal did not allow Central many lengthy point strings. The longest for the Lady Jaguars was seven, which occurred one occasion. The problem for W.S. Neal was it was not able to generate any significant offensive point streaks.
The Lady Blue Eagles had leads in each of the three sets albeit two of them never lasted past the opening service.
A missed Central serve and a point by Jessica Fountain gave the Lady Blue Eagles a 2-0 lead in the opener, which would equal their biggest advantage of the day.
Central's best and biggest stretch of the day snapped a 3-3 deadlock. The Lady Jaguars used a missed serve by W.S. Neal and six service points with an ace by Laura Carnley to open up a 10-3 lead.
Although the Lady Blue Eagles snapped that run with a defensive point, Central quickly responded with six more unanswered points from the serving of Jill Massey to cap off a 13-1 run that quickly swelled the gap to 16-4.
The Lady Jaguars made a quick start in set two hold up. After Fountain gave the Lady Blue Eagles their only lead on the opening serve, a defensive point and five service points from Channing Morgan put Central up 6-1. It was a lead the Lady Jaguars would not relinquish.
Central opened up as much as an eight-point lead on four occasions. The closest the Lady Blue Eagles came late in the set when a defensive point and two service points by Katelin Hulley narrowed the Lady Jaguars' lead to 24-19 before a missed serve ended the set.
W.S. Neal committed 11 of its 21 serve and receiving mistakes for points in that second set.
The Lady Blue Eagles best chance for a set victory came in the finale. W.S. Neal overcame three two-point deficits and took and eventually took a 14-12 lead on a defensive kill by Maggie Crutchfield and two service points by Crutchfield.
The set had a 16-16 deadlock after a point by W.S. Neal's Jessica Lambert, but Central took the lead for good on the following rotation and eventually closed things out on a four-point, two-ace string by Morgan.
W.S. Neal also dropped its season opener by a 14-16, 15-6, 17-15 decision.
The Lady Blue Eagles will be back in action Tuesday when they host T.R. Miller and Thomasville in a tri-match.