INDIANAPOLIS -- South Putnam's volleyball team opened its sectional play Thursday against a hard-hitting Speedway team. The Eagles lost in three sets to the Sparkplugs 25-14, 25-13 and 25-10.
"We played well," South Putnam head coach Renata Hendrickson said. "I think they did a good job of identifying and adapting to their hitters, because the other team was a young team, but they had multiple hitters on their team. Not only strong hitters, but also they could place the ball.
"I thought our team, even though they were fighting really hard, they adapted well and worked hard."
The Eagles opened the match hot, with Makayla Albers recording two aces to start the match. South Putnam jumped out to a 4-1 lead, before Speedway freshman Melanie McHenry got her team rolling.
Speedway quickly retook the lead, and with the score at 13-11 in favor of the Sparkplugs, went on an eight-point run to blow the game open. Down 21-11, South Putnam struggled with returning McHenry's big hits and watched the Sparkplugs close out the first set 25-14.
In the second set, South Putnam began to figure out Speedway's point of attack and started digging McHenry's big kill attempts. South Putnam kept things close, staying within three points of Speedway. But as in they did in the first set, Speedway went on a seven-point run to move in front 15-6.
Speedway was able to maintain their edge and ended the second set with three straight points with Caulin McGraw recording an ace and McHenry connecting on a kill to close things out, winning 25-13.
"They were on their toes. We weren't letting balls hit the ground. We were going for everything, whether we got it up or not or it went out, they were fighting to get every single ball up," Hendrickson said.
Although they spent much of the night on their heels, South Putnam was able to put together some solid play throughout the first two sets. Leanna Masters, Carey Tanner and Mallory Cash had some nice net play, with Albers and Cash providing some solid serves.
In the third and final set, South Putnam played tough early just as they had in the previous two sets, but things began to unravel midway through.
South Putnam took a 5-4 advantage when Tanner won a battle at the net with a Speedway defender, but it would be the last time the Eagles enjoyed a lead.
With the score 11-7 in favor of Speedway, the Sparkplugs rattled off six points to take a 17-8 lead. They put together another run of four points to take a 23-9 lead and cruised to a 25-10 victory to win the match.
The biggest obstacle the Eagle dealt with on Thursday was allowing the Sparkplugs to enjoy long point runs. Hendrickson said that Speedway did a good job on recognizing when South Putnam would figure things out and then adapting and using it to their advantage.
Thursday marked the final match for seniors Albers, Cash, Masters, Janet Crafton, Mattie Varvel and Emily Dobson.
At Covenant Christian
IHSAA Volleyball Sectional No. 44
South Putnam 14 13 10
Speedway 25 25 25