EMINENCE -- North Putnam was looking for win number one of the season as they traveled to Eminence Tuesday night.
Four sets of heavily contested volleyball later, the Cougars were still looking for the elusive first win as the Eels scrapped out a 25-22, 25-27, 25-22 and 27-25 win.
In the JV contest before hand, the Cougars came away with a 25-20 and 25-21 win over the Eels. The second set required the squad to make a monumental swing, being down at one point 12-2 in the game.
The tight early contests set the stage for an even more closely fought varsity contest.
With the exception of the second set, the sets carried a similar theme throughout: Eminence took the first point, only to watch as the Cougars built up leads midway through the set that ranged from five to nine points.
But, when things seemed to be looking at their brightest, Eminence would rally back to tie the score. Both squads then battled back and forth, with the home side narrowly getting the win in the set.
North's lone set win was the tightest of the match. The visitors took a 12-4 lead early, only to watch the lead slide down to two at 15-13 midway through the set. From there, the two squads would be tied 10 separate times before the Cougars broke the held serve to claim the set.
Eminence was able to pull the feat off themselves in the other three sets, enabling them to move back above .500 for the year at 5-4 while Cougar head coach Jill Schreiber was left wondering what was next.
"We are an athletic team. We don't have any confidence. We don't have the drive right now to come into a gym and overpower somebody. This is a game I thought that could help our confidence, to come in and beat a team and start working on different things that we've worked on," Schreiber said.
"We'd start out great and just lose it. I don't know how to teach competitiveness. That has to be within the athlete. We've talked about all different kinds of things of being competitive, having the pride, the heart to come in and be successful.
"We're in a spot where it's almost easier to lose and be okay about it. It's hard to be winners. This is the most talented team I've had since starting at North Putnam. We've got to find some drive," Schreiber added.
While the game didn't pan out in the Cougar's favor, some elements of the game stood out for Schreiber.
"Our passes were excellent. We struggled a little bit setting tonight. We couldn't hit tonight. We're a team that has to be able to hit. We can't do the pass it over and let them hit it to us game," Schreiber said.
"The back row, LeeAnn Davis, Bethany Wiatt, did a nice job tonight. When Kallie Brattain got sets, she was hitting. Sam Lucas is coming back and getting back into the flow of things after being out a couple of weeks.
"Morgan Robinson played well at the net. But she can't do it all. We start her off serving because she's left handed and she's a great server."
A strong South Putnam squad awaits on Thursday. Schreiber is hoping that the in-county game will be a spark of sorts for her squad.
"We play to our competition. We don't just come in and dominate anyone. We've played four games with Covenant Christian, a good team. We played four games with Eminence, who's definitely improved. Their fundamental skills are great," Schreiber said.
"But we feel we're more athletic than some that we've played, but we play at their level. When we start to fall down, we can't pick ourselves back up.
"I'm hoping that we play better. I hope we can mark this up as a win and move on from this. At some point, we've got to turn this around. We've got to figure out some way to do that."
North Putnam 22 27 22 25
Eminence 25 25 25 27
North Putnam 25 25
Eminence 20 21