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Lady Demons sweep Camden in three sets

Posted: September 4, 2015 10:44 a.m.
Updated: September 7, 2015 1:00 a.m.
Tom Didato/C-I photo/

L-E’S SARAH TURNER SETS the ball for a teammate in Thursday’s win over Camden.

Having been Camden’s junior varsity volleyball coach the previous four seasons, Katie Ham left no doubt as to where her loyalties resided as she met with her Lugoff-Elgin varsity squad before Thursday’s match at Camden.

“I told our girls before the game,” Ham said of her pre-match talk, “‘Look, those are my babies across the net, just like you are. But tonight, I’m all (L-E colors) red and navy.’”

About an hour later, Ham and the Lady Demons were celebrating on Camden’s home floor following a 25-20, 25-15 and 25-23 win in a non-region match played between two young teams.

More than one time during the contest, CHS head coach Paige Wilson was giving her team the “talk” sign with her hands. In the end, the lack of communication by the Lady Bulldogs resulted in many L-E shots finding the floor on their side of the net as players were not calling for the ball or, letting their teammates know whose responsibility it was to go after it.

“Communication is definitely an issue,” Wilson said. “Although they did (communicate), at times. We were inconsistent with a lot of things tonight.”

The hostesses were having the better of things in the first set, leading 13-8 and then, 17-13 before the Lady Demons started clicking and using a 7-1 run to grab the 20-18 advantage from which the Lady Bulldogs could not recover as L-E took the opener.

Camden led, 7-6, in the second set only to see L-E use a 9-3 surge to grab this one by the throat and going on top for keeps at 15-9. The guests closed the set on a 7-3 run to take the 10-point win in the best-of-five match.

Wilson said her team got down on itself when the Lady Demons started gaining momentum. That, she said, needs to change.

“When we got behind, we lost our confidence and our focus and didn’t fight back,” she said. “We need to play a little smarter. We’re still tweaking the lineup and still trying to find a lineup that works. Although I saw some good things tonight, we still have work to do.”

L-E turned the tables on its rival in the finale, jumping to a 9-4 advantage following a service ace from junior Emily Hyman. When the lead grew to 11-4, Wilson called for a time out in trying to both settle down and rally her troops.

While CHS played better, it still trailed, 17-12 and then, 18-13 as it appeared as if the Lady Demons would sail to the sweep. But a kill from Camden senior Kristen Carter drew the home side to within 18-15 forcing Ham to burn a time out.

A long Lady Demon serve out of the time out helped Camden cut the deficit to 18-17. A Grace McGugan block evened the set at 18 and when Carter’s shot found a hole in the L-E defense, Camden took a 19-18 lead which grew to 23-20 with Camden’s 22nd point coming after each side took turns returning tough shots in what was easily the best rally of the evening.

Calling a second time out with her team trailing, 23-20, Ham received the results she was looking for after that break. A deep shot from L-E’s Natalie Taylor never came back to the Lady Demons’ side as the lead was trimmed to 23-22. When Camden was called for being in the net, it gave the guests the set-tying point. Hyman then went over the Camden defense for a kill as L-E regained the upper hand at 24-23 as Wilson used another time out in trying to stunt the visitors’ momentum.

It would be Hyman who put the icing on the cake as Camden could not return her serve as the Lady Demons made this a quick evening.

“It was good to close them out in three because that’s less work that we have to put in. We don’t want to be here all night,” said Ham with a smile.

The way in which the Lady Demons battled when faced with adversity or, when playing with the lead and putting a set away is the M.O. for her team, said the first-year L-E head coach whose team lost seven seniors to graduation. A win over their rival should give them a shot of confidence.

“The way we play is that it’s always zero to zero,” Ham said. “We play whistle to whistle, no matter what happens. We could be winning 24-0 or, losing 24-0 but in their head, it is zero to zero. 

“Emotionally, they fought. We were down in the last game and came back and won. That’s them. They’re fighters. Camden has a good squad and they fought, as well.”

What Wilson saw from her squad was one which showed flashes of being the type of  team that she believes they can become. But playing well in spurts, she said, is not enough to win matches.

“We’re very capable but we need to be consistent,” Wilson said. “We just have to play smarter and make fewer mental errors.”

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