By Chuck Reherman
Tougher than expected.
Southwest Covenant went into Tuesday night’s match against Harding Charter Prep looking to “shake off the rust” of not having played a match in a week.
The Lady Patriots got more of a challenge than expected, but found a way to come out with a three-set win.
Harding Charter took SWCS to the wire in all three matches. SWCS won 25-15, 25-21 and 25-23, having to come from behind in the third set to end the match in three.
“We didn’t play as well as we would have liked to have played,” SWCS head coach Samantha Lindsey said. “We had our starting right side hitter (Anna Bell) go down with a sprained ankle in practice on Monday, so that threw us a little bit too.
“Harding had a tough blocking front row and that shook us off a little bit, because we are not used to being blocked and got us off our game,” she added. “But, it was a good game for us, it was a good growing experience for us moving forward.
“Having not played a match in a week did have an affect. The girls went on a retreat on Friday, so we didn’t have practice that day. So not playing and missing a couple days of practice took our focus away a little bit.”
The Lady Patriots have played Harding in the past, but faced a better Lady Eagle team than those. And, SWCS has to meet the Lady Eagles twice more this season in an upcoming tournament and at Harding.
“Harding was definitely a better team than they have been in the past,” Lindsey said. “They had some very athletic girls, a couple of big girls that made it difficult at the net for sure.
“Harding put up a good fight and that was good for us to get through,” she said. “And, we did get through it, we won the match and that is what matters.
“I was a little nervous, but they pulled through and for us being such a young team was a step toward maturity. Maybe not playing your best game, but they took the next step and finished a game with a win that we could have lost.”
It did appear in the third set that the Lady Patriots may have to go into a fourth set. Harding jumped out to a big lead early, opening an 8-2 margin to start. SWCS came back on kills from Kylie Moseley and Macie Noland and got some key blocks from Emma Riggs to battle back.
SWCS cut the lead to 13-10 and put together a run that tied to set 15-15. The teams traded back and forth over the next seven points.
The Lady Patriots came back from a 23-22 deficit on a kill by Moseley, then used a block out of bounds of a Harding defending to take a 24-23 lead.
The Lady Patriots ended the match as Riggs blocked a Harding shot at the net.
“We know we will have to play them better the next two times we meet them,” Lindsey said. “We did have some problems with our serve and we tried some different things that we did have some problems adjusting to.”
The class 4A No/. 9 ranked Lady Patriots, 10-4 overall, will host Amber-Pocasset on Tuesday and travels to Union City on Thursday.
The Lady Patriots will also play in the Bethany Tournament on Saturday where they will face Harding again, as well as Piedmont and Weatherford.
By Chuck Reherman