Augusta Prep volleyball head coach Rich Bland expects a hard-fought battle every time the Lady Cavaliers face South Aiken, and that's exactly what he got Wednesday night.
After sweeping the Lady Thoroughbreds in 2011, a young Augusta Prep (1-1) team hoped to start the season series continuing the streak. They played the Lady Thoroughbreds close but couldn't get over the hump, losing 25-23, 25-16, 25-22.
"I was happy overall," said Bland, noting he started five sophomores against a much-improved South Aiken team from a year ago.
The first game was a pivotal one. Not just with South Aiken (4-0) winning a close match, but with the way they won. Time and again, Lady Cavalier hitters seemed to have scored a point with a hard kill attempt only to see the ball somehow make its way back over the net.
"It wasn't just our libero, we had good digs from everybody when we needed them," said South Aiken head coach Teresa Carter. "They never give up."
Jara Morgan led the Lady Thoroughbreds with 14 digs while Lauren Howard set up the team's hitters to the tune of 20 assists.
Down 23-22, sophomore Margaret Cavanaugh, who led the Lady Cavaliers with 10 kills and 16 assists, got a kill to tie the score. South Aiken's Elizabeth Butler recorded consecutive kills of her own to give the Lady Thoroughbreds the win.
The Lady Cavaliers were down 3-0 from the get-go and trailed by as many as 10 points in game two and lost 25-16.
Coming out strong in game three, the Lady Cavaliers charged out to a 10-5 lead, but behind the hitting of Bailey Parker (10 kills) and Catherine Luther (eight kills), South Aiken soon forged a 14-10 lead of their own.
The game was tied at 20 before South Aiken scored five of the next seven points to seal the sweep.
"We fought hard in game one and it really could have been anybody's game," Bland said. "We came out flat in game two, and I talked to the girls about it, but they hung in there. I told them after the match I was proud that they didn't let a flat game two carry over into game three and just hang it up."