The Middlesboro and Bell County volleyball teams did their part to raise awareness of breast cancer with a “Think Pink Night” at MHS on Thursday. Both teams wore pink for the match and put on quite a show, the Lady Cats came out on top in a pair of nail-biters 27-25, 25-23.
“The seniors wanted to do this, it was some thing they came up with and it was all their idea,” said MHS coach Mike Spradlin. “Breast cancer awareness is a big deal to some of our girls and when I approached (Bell coach Amber Hinkle) about it she was all for it.”
The Lady Jackets came out hot as senior Carissa Padgett delivered a block and then three kills as they built an 8-2 lead in the first set.
Later Caitlyn Dean helped the Lady Cats turn the tide by reeling off six straight service points. Katie Jarvis had two kills during the run as Bell turned an 11-8 deficit into a 14-11 lead.
The game went back and forth from there with Charlesa Witherspoon delivering a pair of hard serves for Middlesboro that the Lady Cats couldn’t return to tie things at 19.
Bell senior Sydney Gray won a point at the net and then provided three service points, including and ace, for a 23-20 Lady Cat lead.
But again MHS came back. Padgett had two service points, before a Jarvis spike put Bell up 24-22. Lady Jacket sophomore Karrah Hart won a point at the net and then fired off a pair of serves that the Lady Cats couldn’t return to put Middlesboro up 25-24.
A serve into the net tied the game and the Lady Jackets got their wires crossed late as they allowed one Dean serve to fall in for an ace and then were unable to get the next return back over the net and Bell took the first game 27-25.
“We capitalized on their mistakes and that’s what won us the game. We worked hard in practice on what to do when someone is blocking us like the Padgett girls was, she’s a great blocker. I’m hoping the girls learned a little bit to place the ball when they are being blocked each time,” Lady Cat coach Amber Hinkle said. “A lot of the kids also stayed after practice and worked on their serves last night. That’s what it takes is that kind of dedication on their part.”
Bell freshman Danielle Parks helped the Lady Cast get off to a fast start in the second game. Her spike brought the serve to the Bell side and then she reeled off 11 service points for a 12-1 lead. Gray had a kill during the big run, but again many of the points scored because the Lady Jackets just couldn’t get a solid hit on the ball to set up their offense.
“As long as I can get her to be more consistent in her serves, we’re going to keep winning,” Hinkle said. “It’s like I told the girls: ‘We have to stick together like a family and when we get down we can’t hang our heads.’ That’s what happened in that first game, we got down and hung our heads. But we stuck together and came back.”
Middlesboro slowly crept their way back into the match. Senior Lauren Schneider served up an ace and Hart added a kill to make it 13-5. Anajae Stephney followed up a block with a hard kill and later added another kill to cut the deficit to 17-9.
Parks spiked the ball out off an MHS player to put the Lady Cat lead at 18-11, but another block by Stephney made it 20-12.
Savannah Miracle came on to serve for the Lady Jackets and eight points later the game was tied at 20. Miracle delivered a pair of aces along with three other serve Bell was unable to return. Padgett also had a kill during the rally.
“It was the serving of Savannah Miracle (that got us back in to it), but it wasn’t just the serves it was the play afterword,” Spradlin said. “We were making some really good plays and doing a lot of the fundamental things correctly. Then we lost focus a little bit and that comes with maturity.”
Jarvis delivered a kill with a little lob tap to put Bell up 24-23 and the Lady Jackets weren’t able to get a clean return on a Dean serve on match point as the Lady Cats took the game two 25-23.
“These girls are ecstatic,” Hinkle said. “Any win for us is a good win and to beat Middlesboro for these kids — we’ve only done it once since I’ve been here. They were excited on the bus to be coming here, it was the ‘Think Pink Night’ and to get the win was a great thing for them.”
Bell County (2-6 overall, 1-1 district) hosts Harlan Tuesday while Middlesboro (0-5, 0-3) hosts the 13th Region All ‘A’ Classic Saturday with their first match coming against Lynn Camp at 10:30 a.m.
“They’re a young team and they’re still trying to figure out the team concept. These girls have got a lot of talent and soon they’re going to break out, and when they do watch out,” said Spradlin. “Until they get that team concept together and start staying focused on what they have to do we’re going to be on the wrong side of things.
“From the beginning of the year until now, they’ve improved tremendously. We’ve got the All ‘A’ coming up so hopefully we can have a good showing in that.”