In the opening game, North Putnam came out the aggressor, but still found itself down early. After tying the match 10-all on a hit from Samantha Lucas, the Cougars went on a tear and built a 20-11 lead before winning the first game 25-19.
North Putnam rode its high into the second game and held tough with Speedway, but the Sparkplugs went on a seven-point run to make it 22-13. They were able to hang on and take game two 24-17 over a still strong Cougar squad.
Game three saw a change in the Cougars. Where in the first two games they didn't let the Sparkplugs have anything easily, North Putnam allowed Speedway to jump out to an 8-0 lead and they didn't look back. Behind powerful kills from Corinne Owens and aces from Owens and Evann Striplin, the Sparkplugs on the third game 25-9 and took a 2-1 edge.
North Putnam head coach Jill Schreiber said her team came out fiery, but the bottom fell out in game three.
"We had a lot of enthusiasm going into the game and we lost that," she said. "We had a 2-16 run and that was great. We were doing everything great, Speedway wasn't doing anything right, and so we felt like we were on top.
"But then they started hitting the ball and they hit the ball in the exact same spot every single time and we didn't cover. Very disappointing. I felt like we had a really good chance this year against Speedway and move on, but -- desire, and we didn't have it," Schreiber added.
In the fourth game Speedway was clearly in command, but the Cougar wouldn't go away without a fight. Kallie Brattain had a powerful kill and an ace to pull the Cougars within two at 8-6. But as soon as the Cougars found a chink in Speedway's armor, the Sparkplugs were able to respond and assume control.
Megan Robinson had some nice kills, but another seven-point run gave Speedway a 22-9 edge. Lucas rocketed another kill late to add to North Putnam total, but a kill from Owen sealed the Sparkplugs' victory and ended the Cougars' season. Speedway won game four 25-13 and the match 3-1.
While she was disappointed with the outcome, Schreiber said she did see some signs of improvement Thursday.
"We did have good plays. I'm not going to say it was all bad. We did have good plays, there was improvement on what we've worked on in practice on Monday and Tuesday. We had a couple girls who usually don't struggle, struggle tonight and that kind of hurt us. With Leeann Davis out that hurts us. I hate it for our seniors," she said.
Assistant coach Taylor Alles agreed with Schreiber. She said the seniors gave everything they had in the match, but it just didn't work in their favor.
"We're proud of how our seniors played. They played their hearts out and it just didn't end up working for them," Alles said.
Schreiber acknowledged her team struggled to put together an effort from start to finish and that's something she and her coaching staff will look to address next season.
"I wish we could have had the momentum from the first two games and just carried that on and we're not a team that knows how to do that yet," she said. "That's something Taylor and I are going to push next year to work on that and to get a team that can start and finish.
"I'm proud of them," Schreiber said.
The Cougars end the season with a record of 5-17.
At Covenant Christian
Class 2A Volleyball Sectional
Speedway 19 25 25 25
North Putnam 25 17 9 13