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Lady Wildcats struggle against Carbondale after layoff

  • Marion's Kylie Plant reaches for a pass attempt during Tuesday's match.

    Marion's Kylie Plant reaches for a pass attempt during Tuesday's match.
    All photos by Justin Walker














 
updated: 10/17/2018 1:04 AM

CARBONDALE -- Nobody likes excuses, but sometimes facts are facts.

The Marion High School volleyball hadn't played in 11 days when it took the court for Tuesday night's match at Carbondale. And not only were the Terriers celebrating their Senior Night, but they had just taken on a tough Harrisburg team and won the night before.

So it wasn't too surprising that Marion fell into an early hole, but instead of digging out, the Lady Wildcats got buried in a 25-9, 25-16 loss to the Terriers.

Marion coach Beth Mitacek was understandably frustrated after the match, but said the long layoff wasn't an excuse.

"You have to find a way to be mentally tough enough if that's going to be our schedule," Mitacek said. "Then we need to find a way to show up when it's time to come back. It's disappointing because we played great at our tournament and felt like things were really turning in a positive direction and tonight we didn't show up -- and Carbondale did."

Carbondale (23-8, 5-2 in the South Seven) jumped out to a 10-4 lead in the first game with a huge kill by senior Maddie Misner, a four-year varsity player and one of the top hitters in the region.

Marion (18-12, 3-4) pulled within 11-7 on a spike from Ivy Smart, but after a sideout Carbondale libero Megan Bily got real comfortable at the service line.

The Terriers reeled off 13 straight points to go up 24-7, a run capped by a huge kill from Hannah Lowndes. But it was mostly hitting errors by the Lady Wildcats -- from several different players -- that allwed the big run.

"It was a combined team effort of missing," Mitacek said. "I didn't think our defense was terrible. But our setting struggled and our hitting struggled. Hopefully it's a wake up call."

Carbondale's big string was snapped by a kill from Abby O'Keefe, but the Terriers took the game easily.

The Terriers scored the first four points of the second game and led 7-1 before a kill by Kylie Plant and a block from Jackie Drury, but Carbondale busted off another four-point run.

Marion went down fighting as Smart recorded a block and a kill during a 7-0 run with Tori Evans serving that brought the Lady Wildcats within 16-13. But the Terriers got a kill from Ella Summerlin -- after digging several Smart spikes -- and pushed the lead back out.

Fittingly it was Misner who pounded the final point in her final regular home match with an assist from senior setter Claire Beaupre, another veteran varsity player.

The middle run by the Lady Wildcats did bring thoughts of 'what if' -- especially recalling the three-game match between the squads at Cuss Wilson Gym a few weeks earlier.

"Against a good team like Carbondale, you can't get down like that," Mitacek said. "Because to make that comeback is a million times harder. We have to come out from the get-go. But they're a great team."

Marion plays at home Thursday against Centralia for its own Senior Night.

Next week, the postseason begins. Carbondale will be in the Harrisburg 3A Regional with Massac County also there, while Marion hosts its own 3A regional that begins with Herrin playing Carterville on Monday for the right to face Murphysboro in the semifinals.

The other semifinal is already set as Marion will face Benton in Tuesday's second match. The winners meet Thursday for the title.