GREENCASTLE -- Rarely do two contests mirror each other featuring four separate teams in two different locations. The fate North Putnam suffered Monday night was the same that befell South Putnam on Tuesday.
In their opening contest of the 2010 season, the Eagles hosted a West Vigo side that, a year ago, pushed the Eagles to five sets in a game that eventually went the Eagles' way in the end.
That would not be the case this year as the Vikings shut out the hosts 3-0 in the opening contest for both squads.
South, missing three players due to not having completed the IHSAA minimum practice requirement, looked shaky in the first set as the Vikings came out firing with a strong service and net game. Falling behind 5-10 and then 7-15, the Eagles were not able to settle down and lost the opening set 13-25.
The insecurities of the first set carried over as South was routed in the second set 5-25. The visitors had two long service streaks, the first a seven point run off of junior Erin Barton and later a 13-point run from senior Leigha Cottom. In between, multiple Eagle miss-hits allowed the Vikings to extend their lead and long serves.
Down 2-0, South Putnam didn't fold and forced the visitors to forced the visitors to earn every point in the third set. With the Eagles leading 10-8 early in the third, the Vikings began to reassert their dominance on the contest, only for the Eagles to force them into mistakes and rally late to bring the contest within two points at 22-24 with a combination of long rallies and missed serves.
However, as had been the case most of the game, West Vigo's strong net play got them the final point to complete the sweep and avenge last year's five set loss.
The result wasn't the best one for South Putnam, but Eagles head coach Lindsey Blackman saw good things from her squad.
"Our goals for tonight were to really stay positive with one another, be good teammates and really look for who was going to step up, who's going to step up when we do have everybody back, to fill those kinda spots with a roll player."
"Also, who's going to be a leader. We only have one senior on the team, so we need leadership. And those were the kinds of things we were looking for. Never giving up. Just being aggressive all the time," Blackman continued.
"We saw lots we need to improve on. We saw people wanting to be careful, and we've said all along we don't want careful, we want aggressive." Blackman stated. "If you err hitting a ball into the net, out of bounds, we'll take that over just keeping it in play. If we're going to contend for the county and the games we want to be in, we're going to have to be aggressive and not scared."
Without the full team available, Blackman won't know until Saturday how the full team looks.
"We were without three players, two returning varsity players in Brooke Boetjer and Emily Dabkowski and another setter in Janet Crafton. Janet will be eligible for the next game and we're looking for her to be a second setter and utilize a two setter offense with Alex (McHugh)."
"Emily is going to have a completely different role. Last year and the year before she was a varsity setter, so she's most likely going to move to an outside hitter," Blackman said. "We're really excited about that. Brooke will move back into the middle hitter rotation with Ashley (Wombles), but they're still working on getting their spots back so it's not cut and dry yet."
"Even without them, we've got no excuses. This is the team we have now. I have full confidence in the girls we put out there every game. The first game jitters are out of the way, they need to give all they have, be positive and stay together," Blackman concluded.
At South Putnam
West Vigo 25 25 25
South Putnam 13 5 22
Next Contest -- The Eagles will host Clay City on Thursday in a JV/Varsity double header, starting at 6 p.m.