(Photo by Brent Shipman, Staff)
PORTAGEVILLE -- Taking Portageville to three sets Thursday night, Charleston was once again denied their first win of the season.
After the Lady Bulldogs comfortably took the first set 25-15, the Lady Bluejays would hold off a late Portageville rally to win 25-20 and force a third and final set.
In that final set Charleston trailed 8-7 early on before the Lady Bulldogs took control the rest of the game, winning 25-14 for their fourth win of the season.
"It's almost like our first game is a practice game," Charleston coach Kathy Browning. "They warm up for that second game and that third game they just can't finish it off."
A poor start from Charleston in the first set forced the Lady Bluejays to play catch up as Portageville opened with an early 8-0 lead. Though they pulled to within 18-12 at one point, the bad start proved too be much as the Lady Bulldogs took the 25-15 win.
Capitalizing on their performance late in the first set, Charleston came out in the set and, after an early 3-1 deficit, came back to the game at 5 each and never trailed again. They would have to hold off a late Portageville rally, however, with the Lady Bulldogs bring the game back to within four after trailing 21-13.
With the score 24-20, Charleston's Brandi Ketchum secured a third set showdown with a kill on the last point, giving the Bluejays a 25-20 win.
We played outstanding the first set. We got a big lead. We played well, didn't make many mistakes. Seems like our back row passes we're really good. Our sets we're good and our attacks we're really good.
Second set we we're a totally opposite team(compared to the first set)," Portageville coach Barry Branscum said. "We tried some different things in the second set, experimenting. It didn't work well and give Charleston credit, they played extremely well.
"We didn't handle what they we're throwing at us in the second set."
Running away quickly, the Lady Bulldogs quickly found an answer to their second set problems, leading 20-9 before going on a 5-4 run to wrap up the match with Charleston serve landing out of bound for the final point.
"Third set we started to get back to what we were doing in the first set," Branscum said. "(We were) back to our regular starting rotation and got things back together a little bit. Overall I thought we played pretty well."
Some of the leaders for the Lady Bulldogs included Janika McIntyre and Chelsea Hunt. McIntyre had six aces, seven kills and one block on the match while Hunt collected five aces and three kills.
Branscum said he was particularly pleased with Allyson Walls serving performance.
"Allyson she had a good serving night," he said. "I believe she was 12 for 13 tonight and she served extremely well in that third set. Really picked us up."
As for Charleston leaders, Ketchum had three kills and one ace while Stacia Manning came away with three aces and three assists. Also for the Lady Bluejays Kasuela Cooper had two kills and two blocks.
Though they are currently 0-5 on the year, Browning has seen a lot of improvement in her girls since last season.
"At Caruthersville (earlier this season) we won a game there and only lost the third game 25-23," she said. "So our games are being closer. Last year we were losing 25-5 or 25-7. This year we're losing 25-23.
"It's hard when you tell somebody we're getting better and they're going 'yeah, but you're still losing.' But we are getting better if you look at our scores. Our scores are much better than they have been in the past."
The Lady Bluejays will play visiting Hayti Monday at 6 p.m.
Portageville, meanwhile, will take part in the SEMO Spikes Tournament in Cape Girardeau today, playing Marquand at 4:40 p.m. and Zalma at 7 p.m.