Unwrapping an early exit: Lady Rebels end Edgewood’s title run in semifinalsPublished 11:03am Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Bessemer Academy gift-wrapped Edgewood the ball for much of the AISA Class A state semifinal volleyball match Thursday.
But the Lady Wildcats couldn’t unwrap the Region 2 winner’s immovable defense, as the Lady Rebels unraveled Edgewood in four sets (25-22, 22-25, 19-25, 21-25) to out the Region 1 runner-up.
“Bessemer was pretty steady to whole match,” said EA coach Alyssa Eason. “They didn’t do anything fancy, they didn’t get a lot of kills on us. They kind of just played with the ball in our court, you know, seeing how many mistakes we could make. We just made more mistakes these last few games.”
Edgewood’s pass-set-hit offense wasn’t sharp enough to disrupt Bessmer’s stationary defense of three in the front and three in the back. The Lady Rebels strategy played into the Lady ‘Cats, but the execution just wasn’t there.
“We wanted the ball on our side,” senior hitter Hannahlee Harris said. “We wanted to set it up and hit it down their throat. That’s just how we play volleyball. We want them to make mistakes. We don’t want to send it right over, we don’t want to make it easy for anybody. We’re a hard competition and we deserved to win that game, it just wasn’t our day.”
“It seemed like they didn’t want to the ball in their court, they wanted to give it to somebody else,” Eason said. “That’s a gameplan you can have. You can think like that, I just try to teach my girls that it shouldn’t matter who’s across the net, our gameplan should work. We just didn’t execute as best we could.”
After a tight first set where Edgewood’s largest was 8-4 and eventually won 25-22 Lady Rebels coach Joel Penfield adjusted his approach.
“We saw a couple of things and made a few adjustments,” Penfield said. “We felt like we could change the game if we shorten it up and (our girls) started seeing the holes in the defense.”
With the adjusted gameplan, BA junior Hannah Kitchens zoned in on those holes.
“Hannah can take a game over when she needs to, she’s been doing it for us all year,” Penfield said of Kitchens who scored 20 points in the match with 14 kills, five aces, along with 18 digs.
In the second set, Bessemer raced out to a 10-2 advantage and extended it to 18-8 before the Lady Wildcats mounted a comeback. They closed within three, 23-20 but freshman Rebekah Kitchens tipped over the set-winning point at 25-22.
Tied at 3 in the third frame, EA leader and senior middle hitter Kaylie Courson exited with a foot injury. Her teammates held serve, tied at 7 until she returned. With Courson back on the court, BA went on a 8-4 run to go up 15-11 that led to the Lady Rebels capturing the third set, 25-19.
Courson said the injury didn’t affect her play the rest of the way.
“No, I mean, it wasn’t my day,” she said. “I tried my hardest, I think we all did. It just wasn’t our game.”
The senior blocked a shot after freshman Kevi Hansen’s ace, who ended up with five and five kills, in the fourth set to give her team an early 6-5 lead. Hansen added three more aces to stretch EA’s lead to 10-5. Hannah Kitchens sparked a BA run to take the lead at 12-11.
Both teams traded 4-0 runs to knot the set at 20. But Kitchens and junior Racheal Worthy led their on a 5-1 run to take the game-deciding set 25-21.
Courson led her with seven kills. Harris had nine digs of defense and added four kills and one ace. Their season ended with the final point, but they know that their now former team will be back next year.
“That was probably the best group of girls I’ve played with the whole five year I’ve played volleyball,” Courson said.
“No little details, it’s just wasn’t our day, wasn’t our time yet,” Harris said. “I know we’ll come back strong next year.
“We told them we enjoyed this year with them. It’s a great group of girls. No one realizes how close we are. It’s an amazing group and I know they’ll be able to come back next year and win it.”