Saturday, September 02, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Titans cruise to win at Hall High

Leader sports editor

Things didn’t always go as they should, but it came out right at the end as the Jacksonville volleyball team opened 5A/6A-East/Central Conference play with a 3-0 sweep of Hall High on Tuesday in Little Rock.

The Lady Titans cruised in dominant fashion through game one, winning 25-9. There was a brief lapse in game two, but the visiting team still came out with a relatively easy 25-14 victory. Things got shaky in game three when Hall put together a run thatcut a 20-12 deficit to just 21-17, but Jacksonville recovered for a 25-20 win to get the sweep.

“We just got complacent, is what it comes down to,” said Jacksonville coach Savannah Jacoby. “I was satisfied with the first set. The first set was great, but we got relaxed and lost focus. Which happens, they’re teenage girls. They did really well and then it just started declining.”

Jacksonville started game three well. Sophomore Blair Jones served four-straight points to open the set, and the points did not result from Hall errors. There was one ace, and kills by Rebecca Brown, Aaliyah Burks and Chandee Wesley. The lead great to 11-4 when Hall (2-3, 1-2) made its first big run of the match to cut it to 11-10. Those points were all the result of Jacksonville errors. There was a miscommunication in which a one-hit return fell in the middle of the Titan defense. When a three-ball bump also fell for a Hall point, Jacoby called timeout with her team holding an 11-7 lead.

After the timeout, Hall’s J. Kidd served up an ace, followed by a pair of miss-hits that made it 11-10.

Jacksonville (1-5, 1-1) finally ended the rally with kills by Wesley. Basia Brown took serve for Jacksonville and extended the lead back to seven with five-straight points, including four aces. The other point was a huge kill by Burks that landed inside the attack line.

Basia Brown finally served one long, but the Titans broke right back with a big kill by Brittney Eskridge that made it 18-12.

With libero Lindsey Holt serving, Rebecca Brown got two more kills and Burks one to extend the lead to 21-12. Seemingly back in control, that’s when Jacksonville suffered another focus lapse and allowed the Hall rally to 17.

Jacksonville finally broke to go up 22-17, and Jones served up back-to-back aces, but Rebecca Brown tried to tip the ball on the next point, and tipped it into the net.

Hall then missed a serve to end the match.

“I think communication and hitting errors are what we need to fix from this match,” Jacoby said. “But it was all from the second and third sets. For the most part, we were strong all the way in the first set. I think we missed three serves, so I told them let’s focus on our serves, but everything else was fine.

“But really, I think the communication and hitting errors were from losing focus. They were sending the ball over on one a lot. We have to be mindful of that and be expecting that. That’s when our communication breakdowns happened most often.

“But a win is a win. I’m not completely happy with it, but we are focusing this year on just being 1-0 every day, so we accomplished that.”

Jacksonville scored 14 points on Jones’ serve, which included four aces. She also had seven kills and nine assists.

Rebecca Brown had 11 points on serve. She also had game-highs with five aces and nine kills.

Holt had nine points and three aces while Wesley and Skyra Gulley also had three aces apiece. Wesley added a game-high 13 assists.

Hall had just 14 points on serve total, including just three in the first two sets combined before getting 11 in the third.

Jacksonville will travel to Little Rock Parkview on Tuesday, and host J.A. Fair on Thursday.