By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The host Lady Rebels looked a little lost in the early moments of the Northpoint/Tipton-Rosemark Academy volleyball match Sept. 1.
It took the TRA Lady Rebels a 25-23 loss to the Lady Trojans in the first set to adjust and get back into stride. Once Wendy Porter’s Lady Rebels got used to the new lineups, TRA swept the net three sets 25-12, 25-21 and 25-15.
“We are down a player right now and it all happened today,” Porter said. “We’re missing Bethany Crane, a starter who plays all the way around. So we had to bring in a freshman. Everybody was playing a different position. It was a lot of adjustments. It took the first set for them to get settled.”
Northpoint broke a 14-14 tie in the opening set with a 5-1 run to make the TRA Gymnasium scoreboard read 19-15. The Lady Trojans outlasted TRA to win the set 25-23.
Once TRA freshmen Emily West and Maggie Stephens got adjusted on the back and front rows, the Lady Rebels took a 7-0 lead in the second set.
Kallie Alexander was the standout in that stretch with three points. Alexander later slapped down a kill to make the score 11-4.
TRA’s Haley Ramsey gave the Lady Rebels a 10-point advantage at 19-9. Then Alexander closed out the Lady Trojans with a couple of more kills to win 25-12.
Deadlock at one set apiece, the Lady Rebels used points from Alexander and Joze Smith to keep pace with Northpoint in the third set. The set was deadlocked at 15-15.
After the Lady Trojans grabbed a quick 17-15 advantage, TRA responsed with a 7-1 run including a Ramsey smash at the net. The Lady Rebels prevailed 25-21 to take a 2-1 lead in sets.
TRA was looking to close out the match and Abby Dunford sparked her team early with a couple of kills to make the score 12-3. Another Dunford spike made the score 16-5.
Down the stretch Ramsey attacked the net keeping TRA ahead comfortably at 22-10. The Lady Rebels defeated Northpoint 25-15 in the fourth set.
The victory over Northpoint was validation for Porter her team is still making progress in 2015. The Lady Rebels have already taken on tough competition from Arkansas and back over the Mississippi River against White Station and Lausanne.
“It’s been rocky but we’ve played some of the most difficult teams,” Porter said. “We hung with every single team. Although we didn’t win a set, we held leads. I’m very pleased with that with them being so young — mostly sophomores and freshmen on the court. I’m expecting some good things.”
As the calendar turns to September, Porter said she wants to see her players make strides toward October.
“Their arm swings are getting faster,” she noted. “They’re playing smarter at the net. And our defense is solid on the back row.
“I just want us to be consistent servers and consistently putting the ball down,” Porter concluded. “That has been our weakness early on in the season.”