The Mason County Lady Royals fought valiantly but came up short in their first volleyball match of the season against the Pendleton County Lady Cats on Tuesday.
In a best of five competition, the Lady Royals went 0-3 to the Lady Cats, losing each set they participated in at the varsity level. Despite losing each set, Mason County showed considerable improvement in each set as the game moved on.
Set one was a dominant showing from Pendleton County, running the score up 25-8. Pendleton County was at match point for a considerable amount of time, and gave up a few points to the Lady Royals at the end, but eventually made the point to end set one. The Lady Royals fought back towards the end, but had already dug themselves a pretty deep hole and were just too far behind to come out on the winning side this go around.
“They learned tonight that they can battle. Even though they dug a hole, they were kind of able to dig themselves out of it and each game they got progressively better. Tonight was a learning experience for us.” said Lady Royals new head coach, Nellie Book.
Despite falling quickly behind in the first set, coach Book said she was proud of her team’s performance this game, and expects exponential improvement over the course of the season.
Set two was a more competitive game for the Lady Royals, staying in the fight more often and returning with some impressive blocks and digs. It seemed as though Mason County figured out how to combat the Pendleton County defense this go around, and stayed competitive for much of the set, but still fell behind in the end, with the Lady Cats winning this one 25-13.
“One of the things that I liked, that we’re focusing on this year, is when we have somebody down and we have them in a rotation that favors us, we just don’t let up. We get as many points as we possibly can in that rotation, and it worked out for us tonight especially in the first or second games.” said Lady Cats head coach Jeff Sears.
The Lady Cats knew when to strike against Mason County, and would wait for the perfect time to unleash an offensive attack. Slowly, the Mason County defense figured out how to fight them off, but by the time they came up with a strategy, they were already nearly ten points behind.
“Building up that confidence is a big thing. Last year they had a four win season, so they’re the underdogs. Building up that they can do it and having confidence in themselves is a big thing.” said coach Book.
That confidence, continued to grow and showed true in the third set of the night.
In the most competitive set of the game, the Lady Royals got out ahead of the Lady Cats early, and led by two points for a considerable amount of time this game. A big part of the teams success in the later sets, were the digs completed by Makaylynn Crabtree and Camden Walton. With 31 between the two of them, Crabtree and Walton kept the Lady Royals in the fight and cause the ball to stay in play.
Multiple returns, spike attempts, saves and competitive strategies came out of the woodwork in the early part of set three, with it looking like the Lady Royals were going to get a win under their belts and prolong the game. Unfortunately, the Lady Cats took off towards the end and left Mason County in the dust yet again, winning this set 25-14 when it was all said and done.
Pendleton County walked away with the victory this game, but the Lady Royals walked away with an education.
Coach Book is a veteran of the sport, having coached for six years at Lewis County, from 2010 to 2015. The Lady Lions, their last year under coach Book went 24-11, and saw great success year after year with her at the helm. Mason County has struggled on the volleyball court in recent years, winning just eight games in two years, the Lady Royals have needed a change of pace and a fresh perspective. Coach Book fully intends to get Mason County on the winning side of things, as time moves forward.
The Lady Royals hit the road to Flemingsburg tonight to take on the Fleming County Lady Panthers at 7:30 p.m. Mason County won’t face the Lady Cats again until September 11, which this time around will be on the Lady Royals home turf, and when the Lady Cats enter the gym, they very well may see a much different team on the other side of the net.