The Ripley volleyball team has struggled to find wins the last few years, and started the 2018 season with two losses.
The Lady Jays traveled across the Ohio River and dropped the first set to Mason County on Wednesday in their third match, before bouncing back to claim the next three sets for their first victory early in the season, 3-1 (22-25, 25-17, 25-12, 25-19).
“It feels awesome. I feel very accomplished as a coach and I feel very accomplished for the girls,” said first-year Ripley coach Shelby Schelling. “I’m very proud of them.”
Mason County, coming off a straight-set loss to 39th District rival St. Patrick, got out to a 7-2 lead in the first set after an ace from Lexy Cooper, but Ripley battled back to get within a point at 12-11 after an ace from Tori Lewis. The Lady Royals used an 8-1 run to take a 20-12 lead, capped off by back-to-back serves from Emily Huber that the Lady Jays failed to return.
“I loved the communication. The girls are very good at – in the beginning of those kinds of matches – they’re very good at, ‘You did great. I’m proud of you. Keep doing it. Keep going,’” said Mason County coach Shelby Hesler. “We just had that confidence up – ‘I can hit this ball. I can swing this. I can make this save.’”
The Lady Royals were able to maintain the lead throughout the remainder of the set and eventually take it, 25-22, on a ball knocked over the net by Kamryn Fryman that found the floor on the other side.
But Ripley took over from there.
Carlee Daulton led the way in the first set, despite dropping it, with six kills, and added two more in the second. Ripley got more girls going from there, collecting four kills and three aces from other players.
“A big thing that we worked on this year from last year was getting them pumped up and ready because they seemed really down last year, so this whole season I’ve been trying to work on building their energy up,” said Schelling.
The Lady Jays jumped out to a 7-3 lead in the second set after a kill from Haylee King and never trailed from there. Mason County tied it, 15-15, on a block from Grace Huber, but Ripley closed it out of a 10-2 run, ending on the Lady Royals 13th service error of the night.
“We played against Western Latham and a big thing was coverage. They were tipping, so we watched them spike and they were tipping, so I pretty much just said, ‘You guys need to move, you need to cover and get the holes,’” said Schelling. “That was a big thing we worked on yesterday at practice.”
Ripley started the third set on an 8-1 run, capped off by two straight serves from Hanna Washburn that Mason County couldn’t return. The lead grew to 10 at 14-4 after a Daulton kill and a King ace, forcing a timeout from the Lady Royals.
“I have an incredibly talented group of girls. They are so fundamentally sound. It is the longstanding emotional part that we need to work on. That’s kind of what got us tonight,” said Hesler.
“Getting pumped up and they let that, ‘Oh, I messed that up, I’ve got to fix this next one,’ and they get it on themselves and put too much pressure on themselves,” added Hesler. “We’ve got to work more on that dynamic of being able to support one another.”
Daulton, who didn’t play last year, collected another kill right out of the timeout, setting the pace for the Lady Jays to finish off the set, 25-12.
“I believe she played her freshman and sophomore years, so she did play, but she plays soccer and a bunch of other sports too and she’s good at everything she does,” said Schelling. “She’s just a natural at sports.”
After pulling out to an 11-6 lead in the fourth set, two straight errors from Ripley got Mason County within three at 11-8. The Lady Jays went on a 5-0 run with the help of three errors from the Lady Royals and two aces from Hanna Swirling to make it 16-8, and Ripley was able to maintain at least a five-point lead for the remainder of the set, taking it, 25-19, when a string of five straight service errors between the two teams ended the match.
Ripley improves to 1-2 with the win. The Lady Jays are scheduled to host Fairfield Local on Thursday.
Mason County falls to 2-11 and will have the remainder of the week off before hosting Holmes on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.
LADY JAYS DEF. LADY ROYALS, 3-1 (22-25, 25-17, 25-12, 25-19)
Aces: Ripley 19 (King, Lewis 4), Mason County 15 (Cracraft, Huber 4)
Kills: Ripley 24 (Daulton 12), Mason County 17 (Huber 5)
Service Errors: Ripley 22, Mason County 22
Errors: Ripley 19, Mason County 32
Records: Ripley 1-2, Mason County 2-11