Lakewood’s Leopards, playing their third game this week, rolled into James Kenan Thursday afternoon knowing that the Tigers would be a strong opponent. They were, but not strong enough to take down the Sampson team, who improved both their JV and varsity records to a perfect 9-0.
The JV didn’t start as well as coach Sheila Davidson had wanted them too, and the young Leopards ended up losing the first set 25-12 to the Tigers, the first set they’ve lost since the season opener against Rosewood.
Lakewood came back to win the match 17-25, 9-25, but Davidson said it certainly wasn’t the best game the girls had played this season.
“They looked like they were playing their first game of the season,” Davidson stressed. “They came out slow, they weren’t in sync and they weren’t playing aggressively. The end result was the loss.”
Davidson said the JV looked like they were playing to lose rather than playing to win. “As a coach, you don’t like to see that.”
But the Leopard girls pulled it together in the next two sets and that, Davidson said, counts.
“But as a coach you also have to acknowledge that there are things we’ve got to work on, recognize our weak points and understand that we have to get better in those areas so we don’t become stagnant.”
Individually for the JV Leopards, Emily Lewis had 17 service points, 4 aces and 6 assists; Alana Jackson, 8 service points; Anna Heinz, 18 service points, 5 aces; Rashada Parker, 5 blocks, 16 kils; Kiera Rich, 10 service points, 3 aces.
The varsity came into the Tigers Den knowing James Kenan, playing with 9 seniors, would be tough so they started strong and finished that way, sweeping the home team 17-25; 23-25; 10-25.
“I knew James Kenan, who has a good team with coaches who’ve worked with these girls for four years, could be a battle and I wanted my girls to go in playing strong from the start so they couldn’t get any momentum going. I wanted them to jump out to an early lead and we were able to do that.”
But Davidson said the varsity girls struggled with their serving and their attack on the ball. At the same time, the Leopards, she said, were strong on offense.
“Overall, I thought it was a good game,” Davidson said.
She praised the play of Bailey Dudley, who had 9 kills on the night. “I think she had the best overall game she’s played. Her digs, her blocking … she used every skill.”
Other Lakewood player stats show Allyson Heinz with 29 assists; Morgan Herring, 12 kills; Jache Servance, 8 service points, 3 kills; Tiesha Rich, 10 kills, 14 service points; and Katie Stewart, 10 service points.
The wins move the JV and varsity to 9-0.
They return to the court next Monday when they travel to Clinton for a non-conference match followed by two more conference games — at home against county rival Hobbton Tuesday and a road game against hard-playing Pender Thursday.