The saying “Survive and advance” is the theme of postseason play. But in Monday night’s quarterfinal game of the 5th Region Volleyball Tournament, Elizabethtown did much more than survive – they cruised past opponent Bethlehem.
So much so, players felt the team was lacking from energy in the first set, which the Lady Panthers won, 25-23.
That all changed for the second and third sets at John Hardin High School, with Elizabethtown having little trouble with the 19th District Champion Banshees (20-6-1). The Lady Panthers won both sets by double digits, 25-15 and 25-12.
“We just realized where we were lacking, that we were slacking off, and we just tried to come together in those spots and communicate more and talking really helped,” senior setter Grace Filburn said of the team’s energy in the first set. “We reset in between the first and second set and we talked about that we need to communicate more, talk about what we’re doing and it makes the game go smoother and work better.”
Coach Bart Catlett said he feels like his team matches their play and energy to the other team to start games.
“We tend to play matches like you do in boxing – we come out and we jab, and we let the other person jab, and we jab,” he said. “Then once we saw what they did and what we needed to do, we made an adjustment.”
Catlett said that approach can be risky during tournament play.
“That’s dangerous this time of year, because you end up getting down a set or two, then it’s hard to come back,” he said. “I wish we would have had a little more energy coming out. But I was really proud of them that once we settled down, we moved the ball around quite a bit.”
The Lady Panthers had 11 serving errors, many of which came in the first set, on the game.
“In the first match, we missed a lot of serves and didn’t come out as strong,” she said. “And they were playing really well. We were expecting that, but we didn’t play as well. In the second set, we didn’t miss as many serves and we started to get our act together.”
Serving and serve-receive has been a problem plaguing the team, Catlett said.
“We spend a lot of time working on first contact,” he said. “I need to figure out a way to do it different, because we’re not consistent at it. “ ... If we get focused and we serve tough, we’re a little different team.”
For Elizabethtown, Filburn and Grace Clark led the team with 21 assists. Hargan had 20 kills, followed by Clark’s 11 and Elizabeth Godfrey’s 8. Taylor Ray had 4 aces and 14 points scored on serve. Defensively, Clark had 13 digs and Godfrey and Hargan had 8.
“One thing that I noticed tonight ... but Grace Filburn in those second and third sets, did a great job getting her feet to the ball and taking a very bad pass and making a very hittable ball out of it,” Catlett said.
He also credited the play of the rest of the team, including the right side consisting of Ray, Molly Morton and Avery Powers.
“There’s was a lot of people that did things better than they had been doing,” he said. “There were a lot of people doing things they’re supposed to and that’s the difference. When you’re doing your job, things get a little easier.
“We always say, ‘When you give half, you take half. When you give all, you take all,’” he added. “And if you’re just giving half, balls don’t stay in system, we don’t get to run our offense, we don’t get to do whatever we need to.”
Elizabethtown (14-5-4) advances to the 5th Region semifinals at 5:30 Wednesday to face Taylor County (8-8-1) at John Hardin High School.