Spring Garden volleyball continues to dominate in sweep of Cedar Bluff, Faith Christian

Spring Garden’s Chloe Rule, left, delivers a kill against Faith Christian on Tuesday. Photo by Shannon Fagan.

By Shannon Fagan, WEIS Sports Director

SPRING GARDEN – Spring Garden volleyball coach Ricky Austin usually coaches standing up, but here lately he’s been taking a seat on the bench.

That’s because the Lady Panthers are playing so well right now. Austin feels he can give his legs a rest.

“We feel like we’re getting things accomplished in practice that right now, in games, it’s just like ‘Y’all just go do your jobs.’ There’s just not a lot of coaching going on during games right now,” Austin said. “We’re working hard during the week. We know what our weaknesses are and we’re still working hard on them, but when it’s game time, it’s just making decisions on who needs to go in where and do what. They’ve got a really good feel for each other and what they can do. It’s fun right now. They’re kind of on fire.”

The Lady Panthers continued to be “on fire” on Tuesday night against area rival Cedar Bluff and Faith Christian. They swept both teams to improve to 21-3 on the season.

In the win over Cedar Bluff (7-11), the scores were 25-12, 25-6 and 25-13. In the nightcap with Faith Christian, the scores were 25-14 and 25-11.

Austin felt the Lady Panthers continued to “play real clean” following Saturday’s tournament win at Donoho.

“When we left that tournament, I said it’s a great win, but let’s make this thing continue into next week,” Austin said. “Cedar Bluff has been playing some good volleyball as well as Faith. I was impressed with Cedar Bluff’s defense, but I thought defensively we were really good all day. We blocked, got some tips when we needed them, got some touches on their hits. Our back row has been good for us for a couple of weeks now. They’re on it. They’re moving. They’ve taken pride in passing and wanting to be good.

“Chloe (Rule) and Olivia (Law) are right up there at the top with Ace (Austin) in kills. That’s a plus. Avery (Steward) is doing a great job. We’re serving the ball well. Allie (Mobbs) and Libby (Brown) are really starting to figure things out. They’re starting to understand their jobs and their roles when they’re on the court. We’re just playing toward our strengths. They’re giving us big options there.”

Cedar Bluff coach Deidra Cox called Spring Garden “an elite team.”

“Each player out there knows their job. They know what they’re supposed to do and they’re very disciplined. We did not have a good outing against them,” she said.

The Lady Tigers had a better outing against Faith Christian. They took the Lady Lions the distance, but ultimately fell in three sets. The scores were 21-25, 25-23 and 14-16.

“We didn’t finish,” Cox said. “We had plenty of opportunities, but we just didn’t execute. I had several players step up and play better than the (Spring Garden) match, but we still had too many blown chances, too many opportunities missed. That’s stuff we definitely we have to fix.

“There were moments where we were clicking, but there were also moments where we weren’t. That’s something that’s got to be more consistent. Our libero (Blakelea Hall) is out with an injury, but we did have some players step up and play well passing back row. We are definitely missing her back there. We’ve had to make some changes, some adjustments, and they have adjusted well, but it’s a matter of executing when it’s game time.”

In the loss to Faith, Lacie Roer led the Lady Tigers with 10 kills, two digs and an ace. Rylie Walker came away with 16 assists, two kills and a dig. Kindal Grace contributed four kills, three digs and two aces. Caley Bruce added four kills and four digs. Graceland Benton had a kill and an ace

Anslee Evans and Anna Henderson both finished with a dig.

In the loss to Spring Garden, Grace delivered eight kills and two digs. Roer contributed six kills and an assist. Bruce added a pair of kills. Walker managed 14 assists and a kill. Evans delivered two digs and a kill. Janaya Higgins collected seven digs, a kill and an assist. Benton had a dig and an assist. Henderson finished with a dig.

In Spring Garden’s win over Cedar Bluff, Ace Austin posted 10 kills, three assists, an ace and a block. Steward added 28 assists and an ace. Rule contributed nine kills and two blocks. Maggie Jarrett delivered seven kills, an ace and an assist. Law earned four kills and three blocks. Layla Ingram managed two aces and an assist. Helena Ingram had two assists. Kristen Lewis finished with three aces.

Against Faith Christian, Rule delivered nine kills and a block. Ace Austin and Law both managed eight kills. Ace Austin also added a dig and a block. Law also blocked a shot. Steward came away with 30 assists. Jarrett contributed five kills, an ace and a block. Layla Ingram earned four aces and three digs. Lewis had a dig. Mobbs finished with a block.

“I don’t want to get too satisfied and think we’ve peaked, but I see people improving in inches,” Coach Austin said. “We’re getting a little better, a little better, and I feel really good about that right now.”

Spring Garden is at Cherokee County on Thursday with Jacksonville. Cedar Bluff hosts Coosa Christian and Piedmont, also on Thursday.

Cedar Bluff’s Lacie Roer, left, goes up for a block against Spring Garden’s Maggie Jarrett during their area volleyball match on Tuesday. Photo by Shannon Fagan.
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