For The Independent
Lewis County’s volleyball team wants to win 26 matches this season.
The Lady Lions are 53.846154 percent of the way thanks to Tuesday's 3-1 (22-25, 25-16, 25-10, 25-15) win over visiting Russell.
“It is pretty good,” sophomore libero Ashley Parson said. “It's not a bad start … We set our goals high.”
A better description was — a historic beginning.
Lewis County (14-5) has won nine of its last 12 matches. The Lady Lions are 1-1 against Russell this season, but there is a larger milestone — last night was the first win over Russell since 2002.
What did Lady Lions coach Nellie Book see?
“The desire and just the the determination to push through,” she said. “Usually when we played Russell, my girls would see the name ‘Russell,’ and they folded. (Last night) they didn't fold; they played their hearts out.”
Three Lady Lions were major kill contributors: junior Dedrea Stone led her team with 11; sophomore Courtney Wright added eight; and sophomore Chelse Parks had seven.
And Parson? An 11-point run on her serve closed out the match.
“I was nervous,” she said. “I didn't want to serve it out.”
Russell (8-10) has four seniors, four sophomores and three freshmen. Coach Darrell Adkins said before the match that freshman hitter Sara Hieneman and sophomore Emma Ison are among the best players in the 16th Region.
Afterward, Adkins was more critical of his team overall.
“Lewis just made more plays than we did, pure and simple,” he said. “They made more plays, they passed everything we hit, they got their serves in, they kept hustling.
“Balls that were going in the bleachers, our girls were clapping their hands and celebrating, and Lewis was getting the ball back over the net. We'd already quit; we didn't play until the whistle.”
Lewis County is even younger. Casey Caudill is the only senior on the roster to go with two juniors, seven sophomores, five freshmen, an eighth-grader and a seventh-grader.
The Lady Lions took an 18-14 first-game lead — and then watched the Lady Devils take the game with an 11-4 run. Book was afraid an old problem had returned.
Stone said the problem was vocal as much as physical.
“We didn't talk very much,” she said. “Our passes weren't there. (Russell) played a great game.”
Book was afraid another meltdown had begun, and she didn't want her team to see her sweat. She reminded her players about what they did in a Sept. 5 match against Raceland, even though Lewis County lost in five games.
“They hustled to every ball, even those balls that are coming full force at them,” Book said. “They got under them, they made a pass and they returned it with a hit, and that's all that I could ask for.”
Lewis County resoundingly answered with a 13-4 second-game run. Stone provided touch — a dink over Russell's front line into the middle of the defense — and power when her kill put her team ahead 22-11.
Russell took a 4-1 third-game lead on Ison's kill, but Lewis County about as quickly scored the next 11 points. One play stood out: with the score 7-4, Wright defeated two Lady Devil blockers when she took a lot off her hit, which led to a shot into the net.
The Lady Devils' Cassie Fultz opened the fourth game with an ace and a service winner, part of a 5-1 streak, which Russell expanded to an 11-5 lead.
Stone's block pulled Lewis County to 14-13, but Hieneman's hit forced her to block the ball out of bounds.
From there — all Lewis County.
Stone's kill made it 23-15. Two points later, Wright's spike closed out the match.
“I serve straight on and put a little (counterclockwise) spin on it, and try to hit the holes,” Parson said.
Parson's right hand noticeably shook after the match, and she jokingly wondered how long it would continue.
“Probably until (this morning),” Parson said, “once I realize we actually won.”