Though the 2012 volleyball season has been a disappointing one for the Middlesboro Lady Jackets, the girls have stuck together and they were rewarded with a 25-21, 21-25, 25-15 win over Lynn Camp Wednesday.
It was Senior Night for the Lady Jackets and all four of their seniors contributed greatly in the win. Carissa Padgett led the team with nine kills and added nine service points, including two aces. Charlesa Witherspoon had a match-high 15 service points, including three aces. Lauren Schneider had three services points and several assists in setting up Padgett and freshman Anajae Stephney. And Savanna Miracle chipped in with a pair of service points, one ace, and several digs in anchoring the back row.
“I’ve said the whole season that we’ve got a lot of talent, but we just weren’t able to put it together,” said Spradlin. “The seniors stepped up tonight, they’ve kept the team together and I’m really happy for them.
“All of the seniors stepped up and took on a leadership role tonight and it showed. They’re a talented group of girls and just wish we could have done more them than one victory — but one is better than none.”
Middlesboro came out fired up from the Senior Night festivities and quickly took control of the first set. Stephney reeled off three straight service points to open the match, including an ace. Brittany Letendre relieved her and knocked home two more service points with Padgett providing a kill for a 5-0 lead.
Just when the Lady Wildcats seemed to be working their way back into the set, Padgett came on to serve and fired off one that Lynn Camp returned into the net and another that fell in for an ace. Candice Bruce hustled to bump a ball back in play and the Lady Wildcats weren’t able to get back over the net as the lead grew to 13-7.
Lynn Camp drew as close as 19-18 after a kill from Jessica May and two service points from Taylor Hollin, but Padgett delivered a spike to end the run and Witherspoon added an ace to keep the Lady Jackets out in front.
Padgett came on to serve with the MHS up 22-21 and sent two over the net that weren’t returned and Stephney, who had seven kills in the match, provided set point with a hard spike.
May had six kills in the second set for the Lady Wildcats, including two straight as they opened up a 15-10 lead with Morgan Mills serving. The Lady Jackets tied the set at 16 behind three service points from Witherspoon, including a kill from Padgett, but May added three more kills and Megan Wilder added five service points as Lynn Camp went on to take the set 25-21.
Lynn Camp built a 5-3 lead in the third set, but Witherspoon came on to serve and belted out two aces along with two other serves the Lady Wildcats couldn’t return as part of a 6-0 run. Padgett and Stephney added kills and Middlesboro led 12-9.
“In the past maybe we didn’t keep our game faces on the whole night. Maybe when we got behind we’d get a little discouraged,” said Spradlin. “Tonight they kept playing hard, they got behind but they found a way to pull it out.”
Bruce added four service points, including an ace, as the Lady Jackets took control with an 18-11 edge. Stephney and May traded kills and the MHS lead was 22-15 when Witherspoon’s turn to serve came back around. The senior served out the match with three straight strong serves and Padgett provided kills on the final two points as the Lady Jackets came away with their first win of the season.
“It was a long time coming, but we got it done,” Spradlin said. “Hopefully with the district coming up, this was a good way to get them started. We’ll try to get them focused on playing well in the tournament.”
Middlesboro (1-20) will play Harlan County Monday at 6 p.m. in the opening game of the 52nd District Tournament at MHS. Lynn Camp (11-14) plays at Knox Central Monday in the 51st District Tournament.