Shamrock volleyball working through ups and downs

September 24, 2018

Bailey Lehr piled up 25 total kills, Scotus fought back from a two sets to one deficit, took a 6-2 lead in the fifth but suffered its third straight loss in a 21-25, 25-21, 25-18, 13-25, 25-13 defeat to Class C-1 No. 3 Lincoln Christian on Thursday night.

The Shamrocks are now off to an 0-3 start in the Centennial Conference after falling in five sets last week to David City Aquinas then suffering a sweep to No. 5 Grand Island Central Catholic. The loss drops Scotus to 9-5 overall.

“This group hasn’t given up. We’re struggling with consistency, but the potential is there. This group, I’ve got faith in them. We’ll keep working, practice hard and look ahead,” coach Janet Tooley said.

“Part of the inconsistency is something I’ve said from the beginning of the season – a lot of these gals have no varsity experience. Right now, our gym is very young. Practices are challenging to imitate what we see in games. Hopefully with more matches we’ll get over this hump.”

The recent hump has been the loss to Aquinas after leading the match 2-0 then suffering another defeat two nights later to No. 5 GICC. Scotus had just come off seven wins in a row at that point with a victory over Wayne at home prior to sweeping through the Omaha Bryan Tournament and defeating a slew of Class A teams.

Since however, the Shamrocks saw a 30-year win streak over the Monarchs come to an end and lost in straight sets for the second time this season.

The theme of nearly every match, good and bad, has been the up and down play. At times, like in the first two sets at Aquinas and the fourth set Thursday night, where Scotus resembles a top-10 caliber group. Other times, like in the final two sets at Aquinas and the last half of the fifth set on Thursday, where the ’Rocks look more like the program that has missed state each of the last two years.

“The girls know it, too, they’re as frustrated as anyone else. They’re struggling with this because they’re working hard but sometimes they’re left scratching their heads wondering what went wrong,” Tooley said. “We have played some close sets, and played teams point-for-point that we’ve won, but, once again, I think it’s about getting more matches under our belts.

“We’ve still got half a season left to go. By no means are these last three games the mark of our season. I’d be a lot more concerned if we hadn’t been competitive at all. The point is, the potential is there. We just have to keep grinding away.”

The first two sets Thursday against Lincoln Christian were a near mirror image of one another with the Shamrocks leading throughout the first until the Crusaders clawed back into it late. Scotus trailed by as much as seven late in the second set, drew within three but went down with an ace on the final point.

Lincoln Christian led 18-16 in the third then won seven of the next nine rallies to take a 2-1 lead. The ’Rocks essentially gave away the final five points on a hitting error, three passing errors and another ace.

They then turned it around and dominated the fourth, jumping out to a 14-6 lead spurred on by three rallies of four points or longer.

A Crusader passing error on the final point forced the match into a fifth set.

Lehr had 24 kills at that point but was held to just one in the fifth. Three Scotus blocks, a Lincoln Christian hitting error, Lehr kill and ace built a 6-2 lead.

Lincoln Christian won eight of the next 14 points for 12-10 advantage, Scotus staved off two set points on a serving error and an Amber Buhman block but sent a shot long past the end line finishing it for the Crusaders.

Eight of the Crusaders 15 fifth-set points came on four Shamrock hitting errors, two passing errors, a call for a double touch and a service error.

Neither side was great at the serving line. LC created seven aces but also committed 16 serving errors while SCC’s ration was 5/11.

Lehr’s 25 kills were followed by seven each from Emily Stutzman and Amber Buhman. Buhman also blocked three shots, and Scotus outhit Lincoln Christian 51-42.

Scotus has a second straight weekend away from the court. Up next is the city rivalry at Lakeview on Tuesday night.

“Any high school team that drops three in a row, you’re maybe struggling a little bit. But this group, I don’t think they’re going to hang it up,” Tooley said. “They’re going to keep competing.”

Nate Tenopir is the sports editor for the Columbus Telegram. You can reach him via email at sports@columbustelegram.com

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