The Sale Creek and Hixson volleyball teams have developed quite a rivalry in recent years and they normally play a great competitive match against each other, despite being in different districts.
That wasn’t the case at Hixson on Tuesday night.
Both coaches were quick to admit they were anything but pleased with the way their teams played, but when all was said and done, Sale Creek had improved to 19-5 overall with the 3-1 victory.
Hixson won the first set 25-14 but could never match that same intensity as the Lady Panthers cruised to victory in the final three sets, winning by scores of 25-16, 25-15 and 25-12.
“I’m not at all pleased with the way we played as Hixson completely got after us in that first set and we didn’t react very well,” said Sale Creek coach Debbie Hill when the final point had been scored.
“We start slow at times and that will hurt us on down the line, but we let way too many balls hit the floor and we just didn’t have enough intensity. There were times we didn’t communicate well, so we still have some work to do.
“We’ve been up and down all season and we just need more consistency. We improved our focus after that first set, but does 34 unforced errors tell you anything?” she concluded with a slight grin.
Hixson coach Robert Catlett was happy with what he saw in the first set, but that’s where his satisfaction came to a halt.
“We came out on fire and played really well at the start, but we just can’t play one set well and then disappear. It’s like we turned the lights out after that first set, so no, I’m not at all happy,” he began as fans headed toward the parking lot.
“Our serve receive went away, but we’re trying to develop some mental toughness. Right now, we don’t have much, but we have to play with heart and leave it all out on the court. We’ve got to learn how to finish, but those last three sets were not pretty,” he said after his team dropped to 12-15 with Tuesday’s loss.
The first set was close for a bit before the Lady Wildcats broke from a 3-3 tie to get the upper hand at 6-4. Four straight service points from Abby Rector allowed Hixson to lead 11-5 and that difference eventually stretched to 18-11.
The Lady Panthers never got any closer as Hixson won the first set going away.
Coach Hill had a few choice words for her team following that first set and they appeared to respond in a positive way.
Hixson had a 6-2 lead in the second set before a block from Madysun Steele evened the score at 6-6. She followed that up with 10 straight service points, including three of her four aces, as the Lady Panthers raced to a 19-9 lead.
A kill from Reagan Ayers a moment later knotted the score as the Lady Panthers appeared to be back on track.
The score was tied three times in the third set, but Hixson’s only lead was early when an ace and two more service points from Makenna Seitz made it 5-3.
Another kill from Steele a short time later gave Sale Creek the lead for good at 7-6 as the Lady Panthers slowly pulled away.
The fourth set was much like the third as Hixson tied the score twice early, but a 7-2 run by the Lady Panthers stretched the Sale Creek lead to 9-4 and it appeared that Hixson’s desire to even think about coming back had totally left the building.
It wasn’t long afterward that the Lady Panthers were gathering their belongings and heading back home with another victory.
Steele had 19 kills to lead the Sale Creek hitters while Avery Cox had 11 digs and Jayda Perry 37 assists.
Abby Rector had 11 kills to lead Hixson while Shelby Rector finished with 15 digs. Gabby Tench contributed with 22 assists and 14 digs.
Both teams will be home for their next match with Hixson hosting Red Bank on Wednesday and Sale Creek hosting Whitwell on Thursday.
SALE CREEK STATS:
Reagan Ayers – 6 kills
Avery Cox – 11 digs
Sydney Gibson – 9 kills, 2 blocks, 2 aces
Jayda Perry – 37 assists, 2 digs
Madysun Steele – 19 kills, 4 aces, 3 blocks
Lillie Morgan – 5 kills, 4 digs, 1 ace
Ruthie Parks – 2 digs
Kayla Phillips – 1 kill, 2 digs, 1 ace, 2 blocks
Kristen Sharp – 1 dig
Allison Smith – 2 digs, 1 ace, 1 kill
Sophia Dozier – 3 digs.
Abby Rector – 11 kills, 1 block, 5 digs
Riley Bellamy – 4 kills, 1 block, 4 digs
Makenna Seitz – 1 ace, 7 digs
Shelby Rector – 1 ace, 6 kills, 15 digs
Blake Burba – 4 digs
Annie Zeigler – 1 ace, 4 kills, 1 block, 15 digs
Rickell Crutcher – 1 kill, 2 blocks, 1 dig
Gabby Tench – 1 ace, 3 kills, 22 assists, 14 digs
Ava Rogers – 2 aces, 1 kill.
(email John Hunt at email@example.com)