By Nathan Hutchinson
Register Sports Editor
The Lady Eagles weren’t very successful at the service line or on serve receive Monday against Woodford County in the opening round of the 11th Region Tournament.
And, in the end, that made a huge difference in the outcome.
“Serving all the way around really hurt us,” Southern coach Jeremy Grant said.
The Lady Eagles saw their season come to a close with a 3-0 loss to the Lady Yellow Jackets. Woodford County won by scores of 25-12, 25-5 and 25-15.
Southern (14-15) missed at least five serves in each set and simply couldn’t find a way to handle solid serving from Woodford County (16-11).
The Lady Yellow Jackets advance to the semifinals to take on Henry Clay.
“I told the girls that Woodford County was going to be very aggressive with their serve game,” Grant said. “They did a really good job of hitting their zones and making us move to places we didn’t want to move to. That was the big difference.”
The serving troubles started right away for Southern.
The Lady Eagles missed three of their first four serves in the first game. Those miscues allowed Woodford to race out to a 12-3 lead.
Southern missed six serves in the opening set.
The Lady Eagles hardly had a chance to serve in the second set. Woodford’s Jesseka Ritchie connected on 14 straight serves, many of which were unreturnable.
For the past few weeks, the Lady Eagles have been without starting libero Ashley Clark, who suffered a season-ending injury. Her presence was badly missed against Woodford County.
“Ashley has played varsity with these girls for two years and they have a weird kind of ESP back there,” Grant said. “MaKayla (Wildman) does a really fine job, but you can tell that they are not comfortable back there. That’s what happens when you have injuries and people are out. It hurts your chemistry.”
After falling behind 17-1, Southern did battle back. Strong serving by Sara Castle and a block by Jordan Adams gave the Lady Eagles a little momentum, but still they couldn’t overcome a big deficit.
Ionna Riley opened the third set with an ace and Southern jumped out to a 2-0 lead.
The score remained tight until the Lady Yellow Jackets put together a 6-1 run that gave them a 16-11 lead.
Adams added another block later in the set, but several more service errors allowed Woodford to pull away again.