North Platte St. Pat’s volleyball coach Shelly Byrn couldn’t help but feel relieved to have come away with a split in a triangular with Broken Bow and Cozad on Thursday.
“I feel very fortunate,” Byrn said following a three-set victory over Cozad. “Our youth really showed today. It was a total team effort out there. It wasn’t just one or two players (who didn’t play their best). We had some players struggle and we had some others pick us up when we needed them.”
The Lady Irish came out with a strong start in the 25-23, 26-24 loss to Broken Bow. They led 7-2 after Zandra Carlini served for an ace.
Broken Bow chipped away and the Indians were close toward the end. St. Pat’s went up 23-21 after a freeball by Bree Saner landed just inbounds.
But as would be a recurring problem throughout the evening, the Irish (4-1) just couldn’t put it away. The Indians won the next point on a kill by Julia Loy and then it was tied when St. Pat’s committed a net violation.
The following play, Broken Bow (3-3) took the lead when Loy made a block. Then the Lady Indians ended it when Rachel Gaston made a kill on the left side.
“We were up by like eight or nine points and they just crept back in,” Byrn said. “There’s a lot of learning taking place with this team because we’re so young.”
In the second set, Broken Bow gained control and led 20-14. But the Irish were able to rally late with a chance to even the match.
Brittany Lawrence tied it at 24 after the 6-foot-3 senior made a block and a kill on consecutive plays. But the Indians got matchpoint after a kill by Lexie Berghorst. Then Ashley Kirkpatrick got a kill just in front of the line to hand St. Pat’s its first loss of the season.
Things weren’t any easier against Cozad, who the Lady Irish defeated 24-26, 25-23, 27-25.
In the first set, St. Pat’s got a lead of 24-22 after a kill by Amanda McClellen. But the Irish attack imploded and Cozad won the next four plays, including the winning points which came on Cydney Christner’s kill in the middle.
Cozad (1-5) then started the second set with a head full of steam. The Haymakers led as much as 13-8. But the Lady Irish were able to get back in it and tie the set at 14-14 before overtaking Cozad.
St. Pat’s got some momentum toward the end. The Irish took a 20-17 lead after an ace by Jordyn Childears that followed kills by Saner and McClellen.
This time, the Lady Irish were able to hang on and force a deciding third set.
Both teams battled intensely in the third. But St. Pat’s had matchpoint after two straight kills by Lawrence.
The Irish still couldn’t put Cozad away. Peyton Irish hit the ball into the net to give the serve back to the Haymakers. Then Claire Christner made a block to tie the game.
Cozad got matchpoint when Amanda German served for an ace. But Lawrence responded with a kill in the middle. Then St. Pat’s got its third match point when Kenzi Klein hit the ball out. Then Childears ended it with an ace and the Lady Irish finally escaped the day.
“It was a great opportunity for a little adversity and I liked how the girls handled it,” Byrn said. “You have to give credit to Cozad. They played great defense. I am really proud of Jordyn Childears. For a freshman to come in and serve with the score at 24-24 was amazing.”