PIKETON — Sometimes, a successful season in the end is spearheaded by a wake-up call at the beginning. Green may have answered that call Thursday in a non-league match at Piketon.
The Bobcats fell to the Redstreaks in straight sets by scores of 25-12, 25-12 and 25-19.
Overall, Piketon took just over an hour to complete the sweep. But in that time frame, the Bobcats may have learned the most important lesson they’ll learn all year long.
“We need to move up from here. We can’t go back,” Green coach Madison Applegate said. “We need to communicate better. I think talking is our weakest point right now. From last year to this year, we’ve grown as a team and we’re going to continue to do that.”
As the night went on, the Bobcats (0-1) did play better … which was highlighted by the third set.
Applegate’s roster is young at the core, featuring just one senior in Rachael Cline who wasn’t in attendance. All season long, the Bobcats will have to rely heavily on freshman setter Alex Smith, sophomores Kasey Kimbler, Kaylee Christian and Adriah Barber, junior libero Ava Jenkins and junior Kame Sweeney.
No matter how you spin it, the program’s youth will have to endure trial by fire.
There’s good news, though. Smith played well in her first varsity start and when Cline does return, the Bobcats’ offense will get a much-needed boost.
“Our middle hitter was missing tonight, we have a freshman setter who stepped in and did wonderful … there’s things we can definitely work on,” Applegate said. “Alex did phenomenal. She had some pregame jitters, stepped into a varsity game and did awesome. I was happy.”
In the first set, the Redstreaks (1-1) jumped out to a 14-4 lead, used a 9-0 run to build a 23-5 edge and, eventually, ran away with a 25-12 victory. In the second, the two teams were tied 9-9 before Piketon ripped off a 13-1 run, going ahead 22-10 before once again winning 25-12.
The third was a different story.
Down 8-4 early, Green cut the lead to 12-11 before trailing just 20-18 late in the set. But in the end, Piketon’s Ally Ritchie, Jazz Lamerson and Ava Little were too much to handle as the Redstreaks sealed their first victory with a 25-19 win.
Piketon’s starting lineup is similar to Green’s when it comes to experience.
“I only have four upperclassmen so we’re working with some younger girls,” Piketon coach Alayna Lytle said. “I like it because I can mold them and they’re really taking to the coaching style well.”
The win was Lytle’s first career varsity coaching victory. The first-year head coach took over the program back on March 15.
“A non-conference first win … I was super-stoked,” Lytle said. “I told my girls we had to come out with a bang. This is a new era of Piketon volleyball. I think we’re on the right track.”
Next up for Green is an SOC I matchup at Clay on Tuesday evening. Meanwhile, Piketon gets back at it the same evening, traveling to Huntington.
“We had some rotation changes this week actually,” Applegate said. “So I think working more on Saturday and Monday, we’ll get in a groove and play like we did in that third set tonight.”