Times Sports Editor
CLAY CITY -- Starting a youthful squad against visiting Owen Valley, the Clay City Eels were unable to overcome some of its own mistakes along with some big hitting by the Patriots.
Owen Valley's Sidney Stines was blistering at the net and from the service line and the Gonser's, Heather and Nikole, showed the Eels that basketball isn't the only sport they excel at in a 25-11, 25-12, 25-14 Patriot win.
"Owen Valley was tough with their serves and No. 22 (Stines) float serve was great," commented coach Ashley McCullough. "We're a young team still and we're looking for that leader. Someone who can step up and lead on the floor during the match."
Early in the match, the Eels struggled mightily with serve receive.
Owen Valley posted five early aces to grab a 14-6 lead in the first game that they wouldn't look back from.
In the second game, Clay City seemed to shake off some early rust and played right with the Patriots, trailing just 10-8 after LaKyla Cook's kill. Lynsey Higgen's play at the net was another big reason the Eels remained close, stuffing three separate Patriot attacks.
Owen Valley however had the experience of five seniors in its lineup while the Eels had four sophomores in its own rotation.
The Patriots strung together six consecutive points, on a pair of kills by Heather Gonser and an unforced Eel hitting error to take over at 21-11 on the way to a 2-0 match lead.
"We were facing a team that is better than us right now," said McCullough. "We didn't know much about them and we had some communication problems."
The final game also saw the Eels remain close through the middle stages of the game, trailing just 11-10 following one of Megan Vansickle's five kills.
Back-to-back aces by the Patriots and an Eels' kill attempt that went long dropped Clay City behind 19-14.
The deficit was too much to overcome for the Eels as Owen Valley ran out the final six points for the victory.
Higgens' play was a high point for the Eels with five kills and three blocks with McCullough adding a kill and 13 assists to go with four assists and two kills by Olivia Schindler. Brielle Drelick added three kills and Cook contributed three assists.
At Clay City
Next game: Clay City (3-4 overall) travels to North Central on Tuesday.