AUGUSTA – Mason County and Augusta both entered Thursday’s match in the Den looking for their first win early in the volleyball season.
Augusta grabbed the momentum at the end of the first set, but Mason County picked up confidence throughout the next two to come back and top the Lady Panthers, 2-1 (25-27, 25-19, 25-17).
“All sports can be driven by emotion, so you find those big highs and those lowest of lows. My girls were able to dig themselves out of that low and just keep going with the high they got,” said Mason County coach Shelby Hesler.
“We talked to them just about playing their own game, that they’re a great team and that they need to show everybody else what they’re capable of,” added Hesler.
The Lady Panthers held a 5-3 lead early in the opening frame, before a 7-0 Mason County run, led by the serving of Lexy Cooper, left the Lady Royals ahead, 10-5.
Augusta battled back to tie the match and eventually lead by three at 16-13 with a kill from Nicole Arthur, but the Lady Royals’ serving came through again as Alyssa Cracraft put three over that the Lady Panthers failed to return, before two kills from Cooper made it a three-point Mason County lead.
The Lady Panthers, coming off a straight set defeat to Pendleton County, stayed in the match and eventually took a 26-25 lead with the help of two Mason County errors. An ace from Kylee Harper ended it, 27-25.
“The communication was a lot better. It’s a completely different situation when you’re in the lead than when you’re trying to fight from behind. I think that kind of helped,” said Augusta coach Roy Machen. “We’ve just got to get to where we can get our serves in. Our serves were a little bit better that first set – at least I thought. I guess once I review the film I’ll know more, but I thought serves were in and we were getting some good attacks and good setups and that’s just something we’ve got to keep working on.”
Mason County used a 7-0 run behind five aces from Cooper, who finished with eight in the match, to take an 11-3 lead over Augusta in the second set, and from there it was all Lady Royals. They took it, 25-19, to even the match and force a deciding third set.
“The serving in general tonight – that was something we had to work on from last night and they picked up on everything that we told them to work on and it was incredible tonight,” said Hesler. “I am so proud of that.”
Augusta was able to hang close for the opening portion of the final set, but then the mistakes started piling up. Mason County claimed 10 of the next 11 points, all of which came on errors from the Lady Panthers, to take a 17-7 lead.
“Hats off to Mason County. They always have a strong squad, but I think that we had some key errors that turned the momentum. You dig a hole and we’re still trying to overcome that, as far as figuring out the situation,” said Machen. “We had a lot of hustle on both sides, had a lot of good volleys going back and forth, but just some key errors and getting caught watching the game instead of playing it.”
Mason County brought the lead to 11 on a service error from Augusta, before the Lady Panthers tried to rally back to salvage the match. They used an 8-2 run to make it 22-17, but Mason County regained the momentum when Cooper dove for an Augusta serve and saw it hit the floor on the other side of the net.
From there, the Lady Royals closed out the next two points for their first win of the season and the first in Hesler’s career. Mason County moves to 1-1and will head to Fleming County for the Seeds-4-Success tournament on Saturday.
“It’s incredibly important because with that tournament, it gives us a chance to play a little bit with our rotation and so if they’re already walking in with a little bit of confidence in their back pocket, it lets them think, ‘This is different, but I can still do it,’” said Hesler.
Augusta falls to 0-3 and will host their own tournament on Saturday featuring St. Patrick, Robertson County and Newport.
MASON COUNTY DEF. AUGUSTA,2-1(25-27, 25-19, 25-17)
Aces: Mason County 19 (Cooper 8) Augusta 10 (Kelsch, Shields 3)
Kills: Mason County 18 (Huber, Myrick 4), Augusta 11 (Arthur, Mofford 3)
ServiceErrors: Mason County 12, Augusta 12
Errors: Mason County 30, Augusta 26
Records: Mason County 1-1, Augusta 0-3