Heading into District IV-2 play today against perennial volleyball power Notre Dame, the Catholic High Lady Panthers had started a modest turnaround.
Two weeks ago, CHS stood 4-10 overall. After rolling off four straight wins, the Lady Panthers had fought back to within range of .500 (7-10) with one non-district game left against Ascension Episcopal Tuesday before opening district play at home against Notre Dame today.
And after battling AES to a close 26-24 loss after holding the lead late in the match, it appeared that CHS had gained some momentum and was turning the corner as the heart of the schedule loomed.
But it was the visiting Lady Gators who used the momentum in the first set to complete a sweep of Catholic High, winning the second set 25-16 and the third set 25-17 to end the Lady Panthers’ four match win streak and drop CHS to 7-11 heading into today’s district opener.
“We’ve been focusing on not making the unforced errors,” said CHS coach Jessica Frederick. “They’re working on what we’re focusing on and I have to give them credit for that. We had fewer missed serves and fewer hitting errors tonight.
“We had some at crucial moments but we had a lot fewer than normal. That gives us the confidence going into Notre Dame Wednesday knowing that we can play smart and place the ball and really communicate on the court where it needs to go.”
The Lady Panthers played well in the first set, rallying from being down to taking the lead but couldn’t hold the lead late and the Lady Gators (14-4), who have won six straight matches, pulled out the 2-point win.
“That comes down to the mental side of the game,” said Frederick, who added that it has been something the team has dealt with all year.
Frederick said that the Lady Panthers have the talent and ability to run off four, five, and six straight points, and have done so at times this year, but the team has had trouble gaining momentum because even with running off consecutive points, CHS trails or the game remains close. It’s still a work in progress.
Against AES, Molly Germany led CHS with four kills. Katelyn Freyou added three kills and a block; Lexi Landry also had three kills to go with a block and 15 digs; Vaterra Calais had three kills and three assists; Meredith Musso finished with six assists and two aces; and Rayner LeBlanc had three aces.
While the Lady Panthers are not yet back to .500, rallying from so far down to within shouting distance of the mark heading into district play shows just how much hard work the team is putting in to make a run as the season progresses
“The girls are putting a lot more into it and the coaches are putting their heads together and working together to put the best team out there,” said Frederick. “We’ve had a hard time struggling with that.
“We have a lot of talent, it’s just putting it together and in what order. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t work and we try something new. It’s just a matter of the team getting used to the changes and they have. They’ve started to trust each other and communicate with each other.”