Leader Blues

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

SPORTS >>Jacksonville falls twice at Harrison

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

The first dents appeared in what has been near-flawless armor on the Jacksonville Lady Red Devils this year, with a disappointing 1-2 performance at the Harrison Parks and Recreation volleyball tournament last weekend. The Lady Devils dropped a close opener with host team Harrison that sent them into the consolation bracket, and it all went downhill from there.

Jacksonville did come away with one win, but a 25-4, 25-11 performance against struggling Little Rock Hall preceded a 23-25, 13-25 loss to Greenbrier, a team that the Lady Red Devils had already decisively beaten two weeks earlier.

“They all had expectations of winning that first game and advancing into the winner’s bracket,” Jacksonville coach Melissa Reeves said. “When that didn’t happen, it just seemed like they gave up a little bit.” The long journey to Harrison and early start to the tournament did little to help the Lady Red Devils’ efforts, but Reeves says that adapting to stringent schedules is necessary if they want to be contenders when the postseason arrives.

“We did have to travel quite a ways and spend the night, and we had to get up at 6:30 because we played at 10 o’clock,” Reeves said. “But they are just going to have to get used to doing that. If we are going to make it to the state tournament and be competitive, we will have to be prepared for situations like that, because some of those games will be played early in the morning also.”

The tournament started out tough for Jacksonville against the Lady Goblins, with a 28-26 win in game one before a tough 15-25 loss in game two. The second game has been the biggest letdown for Jacksonville in the early season, and Saturday would be no exception. Errors on the back row led to an eventual 2-1 loss to Harrison, putting the Lady Red Devils in the loser’s bracket.

One of the main goals for Reeves during the tourney was for her squad to see different teams besides the local schools in the Pulaski County area, but the trip to the consolation bracket meant repeat contests against the Lady Warriors and Lady Panthers.

Raven Pickett has been solid from the libero position in the early stages of the 2007 season, and plans for a new rotation around the junior should give her more control over gray-area hits.

“We’ve been running our poor setter all over the floor,” Reeves said. “Some of them are not understanding that if the ball gets into the gray to let Raven have it. We are going to adjust things to leave her in the backcourt by herself a little more, kind of like we did last year with Rachele (Holder). When we get that first good pass, everything goes alright, but when we send the ball everywhere on the court, it makes it tough.” Starting setter Baylee Herlacher sat out most of the match against Greenbrier injured, leaving sophomore Allison Cox with the setting duty for the remainder of the tournament. Reeves said Cox did a good job in substitution for Herlacher, but is ready to see how the adjustments on the back will improve strategy at the front.
The Lady Red Devils played a rematch against Mills at The Galaxy last night after Leader deadlines, and will stay on the road Thursday with their conference opener at West Memphis.