Marshall ruins Lady 'Hounds net debut
SWEET SPRINGS -- A year after being knocked off by Sweet Springs in its home opener, the Marshall volleyball team returned the disfavor Monday -- spoiling the Lady Greyhounds' season premiere, 15-7, 15-11.
The Lady Owls dominated at the net, notching 21 kills and 13 blocks -- the most since the then-sophomore duo of 6-foot-2 Cassondra Pollard and 5-11 LaTasha Butler stuffed 20 of 24 Hannibal shots during the '98 NCMC Tournament. Senior Ashley Gooden had five blocks, senior Ashley Lewis made three stops and seniors Sam Narron and Lynn Nelson each rejected two attacks.
"Sam's blocking was excellent all night," remarked MHS head coach Becky Harrold. "Her teammates answered the call. The outsides all did a good job of reading the hitter and setting up the block."
Sweet Springs was unable to record back-to-back points during the first game, something the Lady Owls were able to do during the serves of junior Linze Leimkuehler, senior Stephanie Chastine and Nelson -- who laid down the frame's final three points.
Senior Emily Melies served up five straight points to give the Lady 'Hounds an early lead during the second set. Marshall answered with six in a row from Leimkuehler after a sideout, but senior Allison Staples' five serves resulted in Sweet Springs points -- giving them a 10-8 lead. However, the Blue and Gold would make no more runs -- thanks to a poor 74-percent service accuracy.
"Our team serving average needs to get better," admitted Lady 'Hounds head coach Redd Rennison. For her part, Harrold was encouraged by the Lady Owls' resilience -- not allowing the opponent to sustain momentum as they did during last week's two-set loss at Northwest.
"The difference in this game and many others was the confidence and intensity level," Harrold said. "The girls didn't let one point become five. Consistency with this is key now."
Senior Lauren Bray had seven of Sweet Springs' 10 kills and Melies added three spikes. Staples and senior Robin Schelp each came up with five digs.
Marshall got eight kills from senior Ashley Gooden, who Harrold said "stepped up her game offensively."
"After one hit out, she decided it was time to play and went looking for any ball she could get her hands on," Harrold noted. "She made smart plays, but also pounded it when we needed her to."
Nelson contributed six attacks, four digs and three aces and senior Michelle Robbins -- doing some "solid hitting," according to Harrold -- finished with two kills and five digs. Junior Sara Malan also had two spikes. Chastine provided eight assists, junior Melissa Yokeley added four and junior Monica Johnson had two more in her first varsity win.
"Despite some nerves, she did some good things and got the job done," Harrold said. "This should develop some depth on the varsity bench."
Depth is something the Lady 'Hounds (0-1) don't have, with just the minimum six players taking the court. Even with the loss, Rennison found signs of promise.
"There was some first-game jitters, but I was pleased by their play," said Rennison, whose squad hosts LaMonte today. "The communication was much better and passing has improved."
Harrold was obviously delighted that the Lady Owls rebounded from a season-opening loss. Marshall (1-1) has a week to practice before its first home match Monday against Knob Noster.