Owls go the distance in season-opener, pick up first conference win


The winning point is hard to come by in some volleyball matches.

That proved to be the case for the Seymour High School Owls on Saturday in the team’s season and Hoosier Hills Conference opener.

The Owls defeated Jeffersonville 25-16, 25-20 and held a 24-19 lead in the third set before the Red Devils rallied to win 27-25.

The visitors maintained the upper hand in the fourth set 25-19 before the Owls won 15-8 in the Lloyd E. Scott Gymnasium to give Coach Angie Lucas a win in her return as head coach.

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“I think they were just wanting to welcome me back with a five-setter,” Lucas said as she began her 25th season as head coach of her alma mater.

“That’s volleyball. We know it’s going to be that kind of year for us. We do some really great things at times, but not consistently enough so it allows teams to come in. We’re kind of our own worst enemy right now. We make a lot of errors, and until we learn to cut down our errors it’s going to be like that.”

The opening set was tied at 13 before a block by Makenna Fee put the Owls on top 16-13. After Jeff closed to 17-16 the Owls scored the final eight points with the final four coming on aces by Fee.

Seymour opened up a 13-7 lead in the second set on a kill by Fee, and an ace by Emily Corcoran put the Owls on top 16-9, and Cailee Scruggs had a kill for set point.

The Owls held leads of 10-5, 21-14 and 24-19 in the third set, but were unable to score match point.

“I’m proud of this group,” Lucas said. “Last year they didn’t win a lot. It was tough for them. They could have easily laid down in that fourth set. They came back hard in the fifth set and they fought. A lot of it is due to our training. We work extremely hard in this hot gym, and I think it paid off at the end. They know they can push through because they work out every day in this heat.”

The fourth set was tied at 6-6 before the Red Devils 16-4 run to lead 22-10.

The teams traded points early in the fifth set with Jeff leading 4-3 before Fee put her team ahead to stay with three tips and a block for a 7-4 lead.

A kill by Maddie Storey gave the Owls a 12-7 lead, and Abby Schmidt had a kill on match point.

Lucas said Fee was definitely the difference in the fifth set.

“Makenna was the difference without a doubt,” she said. “I challenged the girls for someone to please step up and Makenna stepped up. Makenna took that set on her shoulders and said, ‘get behind me girls because here we go,’ and she did amazing.

“She served amazing, she blocked well, and she found their holes offensively. She’s a fantastic player. I’m thrilled to have her on the court.:

Fee was 32-for-37 with 17 kills in attacks and 22-for-23 with seven aces in serves.

Storey had 14 kills, and the team was 110-for-137 with 47 kills in attacks, and 99-for-108 with 13 aces in serves.

The Owls played without senior middle hitter Jessica Blevins.

“Jessica is one of our better players, and one who has had a lot of volleyball experience so we’re excited for her. We hope she does well at the Indiana State Fair. That’s part of being a kid,” Lucas said. “Sometimes you have to make difficult decisions. She made this one and we supported her 100 percent. She’ll be back with us on Tuesday.”

Lucas said she felt like the team started the match with aggressive serving.

“I felt we served very aggressive in the first two sets and we passed pretty well. We had good ball control, and then in the third and fourth we really struggled serving and passing, and when that goes we just can’t get anything ran.

“We have very young setters. Even though Mo (Morgan Bobb’s) a senior, and Sophia (Stahl’s) a junior and Hayley’s (Harpe) a freshman, we’re really young experience wise. They’re trying and they’re learning a lot on the fly, on the go. When our passing goes it makes it really hard for those kids.”

Harpe had 19 assists, Bobb had 16 assists and Corcoran had 16 digs.

Lucas said she expects the team to serve well throughout the season.

“We thought, going in, serving would be a really strong point for us, and at times it really looked like that today,” she said. “We think, by the end of the season our blocking, and our front-row play will be a strength of ours.

“We think we’re going to struggle some on passing. Until we get a little more volleyball knowledge, and volleyball savvy behind us, we think that is something we have to continue to work on. We think blocking and serving should be two of our big strengths.”

Lucas has enjoyed working with this group of SHS players.

“Everybody coaches differently now. I’m sure it’s different for them,” Lucas said. “Its different for me as well, so we’re all learning. I’m trying to learn what makes them tick, what makes them go, and they’re trying to work hard for me.

“The one thing I have noticed in the gym, they do work really hard. The kids are hard workers. They’ve put forth that effort. It’s just a matter of being consistent, and we’re just not there yet.”

Seniors on the roster are Jenna Gray, Elizabeth Wehrkamp, Bobb, Corcoran, Blevins and Fee.

“They should be able to provide that senior leadership, and they have,” Lucas said. “They’ve provided that leadership in the gym for us. They have help get practices started when I’m coming over from the middle school. That leadership means a lot.

“We’re working really hard to change the climate, to make sure these girls understand that this is about the team now, it’s not about them individually, and everything that they do reflects this program, so we are working them really hard to get them to understand that they need to help their teammates out in all aspects.”

The strength of the schedule has been increased with the Owls playing in tournaments at Bloomington Avon and Connersville this fall.

“It’s going to take time, but in time we will be able to compete at that very high level,” Lucas said. “That’s our goal. That’s what we want for this program, and that’s what we want for Seymour High school, and that’s what we want for our community. We know we have to play these teams to get better.”

The Owls ply host Columbus North Tuesday night.

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