MT. VERNON – The Mt. Vernon junior varsity team won the first set, but dropped the next two to West Frankfort, 25-22, 15-25, 22-25, Thursday evening in high school volleyball action.
The Lady Rams’ jayvee team features 10 sophomores (Ashlynn Depew, Abbie Moore, Emma Bendersky, Shelby Crain, Krystin Boykin, Rylee Langa, Tori Thompson, Libby Schmidt, Hailey Mooney, Abbie Flota) and one freshman (Grace Wilson).
“We have a lot of good hitters out there,” said junior varsity coach Sara Rennie. “We have some size. We have a couple good setters so we have the bones of a really good team. Our goal is to make them as good as they can be for the junior and senior varsity season. That’s what I’m trying to do.”
In the first set Mt. Vernon trailed 21-19 but behind the serve of Crain, the Lady Rams eventually took a 23-22 lead.
The Lady Rams closed out the win thanks to a kill from Langa and a service point provided by Boykin.
Early in the second set, Mooney picked up an ace and tip while Boykin tied it with a kill. Later, Wilson put down two hits to tie the game (6-6) and then give the Lady Rams a 10-9 lead.
Eventually, West Frankfort managed to open the game up. A block from Micah Johnson gave the RedBirds a 13-10 lead and forced a timeout by Mt. Vernon.
Wilson’s kill made it 13-11 in favor of West Frankfort, but Mt. Vernon was unable to mount much of an offense from there as the RedBirds won Game 2.
“It’s a game where, if you make a mistake you’re scoring for your opponent,” said Rennie. “That’s a pretty tough game. I’m not down on them. The whole point of the jayvee program is to make them better so when they make it up to varsity they’ll have all the skills they need to succeed. That’s what my job as a jayvee coach is. We’re going to get back to work.”
Mt. Vernon was down 21-13 but started to come back late. The Lady Rams managed to cut the lead to 22-19 with Schmidt serving. She picked up an ace, while Thompson’s kill made it 21-16, while the Lady Rams earned another point on a tip from Wilson.
Mt. Vernon got as close as 23-22 after a timeout, but a serving error and net error gave West Frankfort the final two points to win the game and match.
“I feel bad for the kids because they’ve been working so hard in practice,” said Rennie. “The girls are coming in and focused and very coachable. We just really felt like we could come in and get a victory in front of the home crowd and it just didn’t happen. We made too many mistakes.
“We’re going to get better. We’re going to go back to work and [figure] it out because I think we have a lot of young kids that are going to be really good volleyball players right now.”