ANNA – Anna’s Lady Coyotes swept past Class 3A S&S Consolidated in non-district volleyball action on Tuesday, Sept. 5, boosting their season record to 11-12. The match featured a marathon second set, with the Lady Coyotes prevailing, 31-29. “I think it may the longest I’ve ever had,” ninth-year Anna head coach Tomika Crosby said. “I don’t think I’ve ever gone over 28. It was very interesting. We started from behind and stayed behind most of that game. Even though we were behind we stayed focused, we didn’t get nervous. We just played and worked through it.”
Sets 1 and 3 weren’t in doubt most of the way, with Anna logging solid 25-18, 25-12 wins. “Offensively,” Crosby said, “in the first and the third sets we were a little more aggressive at the net, hitting the ball.”
Senior Taylor Medrick’s 13 kills led the Lady Coyotes, with junior Hannah Howell and sophomore Lexi Stewart collecting eight and six, respectively. Anna sophomore Haley Thornburg tallied a team-high 12 set-assists as fellow setter, junior Bella Boyd, posted 11.
Medrick also registered three of the Lady Coyotes’ seven service aces, as Boyd and Howell fired two each. Defensively, senior libero Micaela Cornelius dug up nine balls, and Stewart and Thornburg popped up six each.
“One thing I’ve been working on with the girls is mixing it up,” Crosby said, “not doing the same things over and over again — being able to find the hole, being able to read where the defense is. … Tonight, there were some times that we hit the ball out from the middle. We were trying to hit across instead of straight down the middle. The girls were trying to do some things that we’ve been working on in practice.”
In crazy Set 2, S&S opened at 5-0 but the Lady Coyotes responded to take a brief 11-10 lead. Leading Anna’s charge here were Medrick, with two kills, Boyd, with an ace, Thornburg, with an ace, and Howell, with a kill. Later, sophomore Alana Pina’s kill down the line kept the Lady Coyotes close at 17-16.
The teams battled through four ties down the stretch before settling at 25-25. A kill by Howell staved off the Lady Rams’ next set-point, knotting things at 26. Stewart’s kill put the Lady Coyotes up but Anna’s next serve was in the net for a 27-all jam.
Anna survived two more set points before Howell’s tip-over-the-net kill gave the Lady Coyotes the lead for good, 30-29. A Lady Rams net violation ended the set.
In Set 1, Anna moved to a 4-0 advantage and led, 9-3, before S&S pushed back to trail, 15-11. Stewart’s kill and service ace - and a dink-kill from Medrick - helped put the Lady Coyotes back in charge at 21-11. But the Lady Rams had another run left. Three S&S aces and two Anna errors later, the Lady Rams had life at 21-16.
Two Medrick two kills, though, would bring the Lady Coyotes to the brink of victory, 24-18, and her ace would close it out.
Anna cruised in Set 3, with leads of 11-3 and 16-5. Up, 18-6, Medrick rolled out what may be described as the ‘Alley-Oop’ serve – one tossed up near the gym rafters before striking. The technique resulted in back-to-back aces, with one kissing a deep back corner on the way out.
“She asked me if she could try those serves the last three or four points,” Crosby said. “And I said, ‘Go for it.’ She’s been working on it in practice. It’s just a new thing. She feels that she has more power. She gets on top of the ball more and brings it down. The only advantage I see is, I think it ‘psychs’ the other team out because you’re down and you’re ready and you’re waiting on that ball. … It’s a top-spin. She gets right on top of it. It’s hard to read where it’s going to land.”
Goade’s kill pushed Anna’s margin to 21-6 before a big hit from Howell ended the match.