A horrific first set plagued the Elmore County volleyball team on Wednesday afternoon, and the Lady Panthers saw their season come to an end because of it.
Satsuma beat Elmore County, 3-1 (25-8, 25-19, 20-25, 25-23) in the first round of the South Super Regional tournament. With the playoff loss, Elmore County was eliminated and its season ended.
Elmore County had one of its worst first sets of the entire year in the game. The Lady Panthers gave up an 8-1 run early in the set to go down, 10-2, then saw Satsuma push its lead out to 13 for most of the set.
Down 20-6, Elmore County was able to score a point following a bad serve from Satsuma, but the Lady Gators finished the set on a 5-1 run to win, 25-8, and take a 1-0 lead.
“We just weren’t on our game in the first set and we could see what they were going to do to us,” Elmore County coach Kim Moncrief said. “Once we figured out what their gameplay was, we were able to adjust to it a little bit. We just weren’t able to get our hits in and they got in a few more kills than we did at the right time. I think we could’ve played with them if you take out that first set.”
In the first set, Satsuma had six kills to pace their win. The Lady Gators were running plays that towards the middle of the court that Moncrief said her team had not seen before.
Satsuma used middle hitter Caleigh Turpin to their advantage, and she was able to find success at the net both offensively and defensively. She finished the first set with three kills and one block.
While Satsuma found success at the net, what changed the set was Satsuma’s serving. The Lady Gators started the set off with a service ace, and they continued to rack up ace after ace throughout the set and finished with seven in the first set alone.
“I think it was just nerves about being here,” Moncrief said. “This is a loud place and there’s a lot of action going on. They were excited to be here. When it comes to the serving defense issues, we just had some miscommunication. That happens.”
Satsuma was able to take the second set, 25-19, behind three kills and one block from Turpin and three kills from Madalyn Roberts.
The third set, however, saw Elmore County start to turn the corner. The Lady Panthers won the third set, 25-20, to cut Satsuma’s lead to 2-1. Ally Orr led Elmore County with three kills, while Coranda Lozada had two.
The fourth set saw a back-and-forth affair for much of the set, and Satsuma had a 19-16 lead before one final late push from Elmore County.
The Lady Panthers went on a quick 7-3 run to take a 23-22 lead, and they were about to go up 24-22 when the referee stopped play and awarded Satsuma a point to tie the game, 23-23, and told Moncrief that her team touched the ball four consecutive times.
After the call tied the game at 23, Turpin had back-to-back kills to end the game and give Satsuma a 3-1 win.
“That’s a strong program with a very good coach,” Moncrief said. “To come in and play them with and be able o be in the game until the end, I’m very proud of this group. They showed a lot of composure. We had great leadership from our four seniors.”