ANNA – Anna’s Lady Coyotes got back on the winning track, Tuesday, Aug. 15, at home, defeating Bells in four sets, 25-20, 20-25, 25-17, 25-21. With the victory, Anna’s season record moved to 4-4. Leading the Lady Coyotes were junior Hannah Howell, who slapped a team-high six service aces and senior hitter Taylor Medrick, who tallied 12 kills. Sophomore Lexi Stewart and Howell added 11 and 10 kills, respectively.
Anna setters Haley Thornburg and Bella Boyd each collected 15 set-assists, while senior libero Micaela Cornelius dug out a team-high 11 balls.
Though the Class 2A Lady Panthers gave Anna problems at times, the Lady Coyotes ultimately responded.
“I think what was hurting us was a lack of focus,” Anna head coach Tomika Crosby said. “I feel like, mentally, we weren’t in the game. Every time we would get momentum, we’d miss a serve or hit the ball out of bounds, or the ball would hit the floor from us not communicating. And I feel like we didn’t keep the game simple. We complicated the game by not communicating and working as a team.
“But one thing I did see, in spite of all of that: The girls were able to bounce back. That’s a positive for me because sometimes when you’re dealing with young players, it’s hard for them to bounce back when they look at that score and they get defeated.”
In set one, Anna pulled away from an 8-8 tie to lead 15-10 on the strength of a Howell ace and kills from three different Lady Coyotes, Rachel Goade, Medrick and Stewart. Bells stormed back with nine straight points to lead 19-15 before a Medrick kill ended the surge. A kill from Howell followed and Cornelius’ service ace pulled Anna even at 19. From there, kills by Stewart and Cornelius gave the Lady Coyotes breathing room. Howell closed out the set with another kill.
Set two was marked by 10 ties and eight lead changes, with Bells finally pulling away for good after 16-16 with three kills and a block – helped by three Anna errors. After the loss, new Lady Coyotes assistant coach Tifney Kelly briefly huddled with the team.
“I caught the end of it,” Crosby said. “She was pretty much telling the passers to pass, the setters to set and the hitters to hit. She said, ‘Everybody’s got a job to do. Everybody do your job.’ I was glad. She said, ‘Coach, I’m so sorry.’ I said, ‘No, no. Sometimes they need to hear another voice.’ She’s been a great addition, especially being able to work with those hitters and see different things with them… And Coach [Lindsey] Gage has been great with the setters. That’s her focus.”
Crosby’s delegation-of-authority tack this night seemed to help as the Lady Coyotes swept the next two sets.
Set three opened with more ties before Howell stepped up to serve an 8-0 run that gave Anna a 19-11 lead. Two kills from Medrick helped push the margin to 22-15, and, after Stewart’s next kill, a double-hit and a long ball by Bells ended the set.
Howell took over set four as well, at one point striking for four kills in five plays to give Anna a 12-10 lead. From there she fired two service aces followed by a Medrick kill, and the Lady Coyotes’ advantage was 15-10. The Lady Panthers made a final stand, drawing to within 21-19 before Medrick’s big block and Stewart’s ace ran the margin to 24-19. The match closed out with a Lady Panthers service fault.