PM Team Struggling Without Key Player

PM Team Struggling Without Key Player

BELOW, Leading the Blues onto the court are (front, from left) players Cassie Carte, Shana Carter and Grayson Shields. (Ronnie Coffey photos)

PM Team Struggling Without Key Player

ABOVE, PM junior middle blocker Jordan Dawson reaches for the ball during the Blues’ 3-0 home loss to Covington on Thursday.

PM Team Struggling Without Key Player

AT LEFT, Fighting Blue junior middle blocker Kennedi Burton spikes the ball.

Pioneer District leader Covington dealt Parry McCluer a 3-0 defeat in high school volleyball action in Buena Vista on Thursday.

Katie Woodward chalked up 23 kills to lead the Cougars (9-7 overall, 5-0 district) to a 25-14, 25-10, 25-11 victory. Ariel Barber added eight kills for Covington, while Madison Bennett tallied 24 assists and Zoe Spangler collected seven service aces.

Jordan Dawson paced the Fighting Blues (2-11, 2-3) with two kills, one block and one ace. Sydney Cullen notched a pair of kills for PM, and Kennedi Burton produced one block.

Playing without their most productive player, outside hitter Chloe Persinger, for the second straight match, the Blues focused on doing some of the little things well against a tough opponent.

“They did put in a good effort. They didn’t give up,” PM head coach Shannon Stiltner said. “We set goals, and I will honestly say we reached our goals. They were small ones – but if we can reach the smaller ones, then we’re working with some bigger ones as the season goes on.”

The Blues are also seeing continued improvement from their two junior middle blockers, Burton and Dawson. Outside of each recording a solo block on the night, the pair came up with a number of other deflections against the Covington offense that extended numerous rallies.

“We practice with them every day about blocking, and about people being behind them when they block. We work on them coming off the net and spiking,” Stiltner said of Dawson and Burton. “If we can get it going this year, then we’ll be even better next year.

“But they’re doing really well in the middle,” the PM coach added. “They’re starting to come into their own.”

Yet even with some solid play from the Blues in the middle, the Cougars’ attack proved to be too much to handle. Woodward had a big night as a pin hitter, notching at least six kills in each set. Barber provided a nice secondary option, while Cristi Persinger chipped in six kills as well.

The first set was neck-and-neck early, with PM taking a 10-8 lead thanks in part to a kill and an ace from Dawson. But buoyed by three aces from defensive specialist Mackenzie Carter, the Cougars strung together an 11-0 run that put them in control at 19-10.

Covington then jumped out to a 13-3 lead in the second set and a 11-2 advantage in the third frame, and the Blues wouldn’t seriously threaten the Cougars in either of those stanzas.

Nikki Jordan totaled 11 assists for Covington, while Spangler and Kinley Spinks finished with four kills apiece. Sydney Taylor had one ace for PM, and Haley Coleman chipped in one kill.

Although the Blues aren’t yet getting the results that they need to be competitive in the Pioneer District, Stiltner is noticing signs of progress from her team.

“We show moments again where we can do really well, and then somewhere around the line we let up,” Stiltner said. “Hopefully, by the end of the season, we’ll have it. We’re working on it. We’ve got the talent; we just have to put it out there and do it.”

RHS 3, PM 0

Riverheads swept visiting PM 3-0 last Wednesday.

With Persinger out of the Blues’ lineup, the Gladiators rolled to a 25-5, 25-4, 25-4 victory. Grayson Shields led PM with two aces, while Taylor notched one ace and one kill and Dawson added one kill.

“We had to move people around, and it just never clicked,” Stiltner said. “Against them, you’ve got to have what you normally have.”

The Blues were slated to visit Eastern Montgomery yesterday. PM will continue district action at home against Narrows on Thursday before the Blues travel to Bath County on Tuesday. Both nights will start with junior varsity action at 5:30 p.m.

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