Both found something to build on following their battle with each other on Tuesday at Gaylesville, won by Cedar Bluff in four games.
Cedar Bluff (6-7) earned game one 25-9, but the Lady Trojans (1-10) rebounded to take the second game 25-21. The Lady Tigers rallied to win game three 25-21 and game four 25-16 to take the match.
One thing Ferguson said she’s been concerned with this season is the Lady Tigers lack of establishing the middle. She tried sophomore Jasmine Adams at the position on Tuesday, and Adams responded with four digs, four assists, two kills and a block.
“It worked out pretty well,” Ferguson said. “We’ll probably try that out Thursday night and see how it goes at Fort Payne.”
As usual, the Lady Tigers got most of their production from their senior outside hitters, Audrianna Hargitt and Hannah Leach.
Hargitt posted 24 kills, 25 digs, four aces, two blocks and an assist. Leach came away with 13 kills, 14 digs, three aces and three assists.
“Hannah and Audrey are our go-to players when we need a side out,” Ferguson said. “Our setters know who to give the ball to. They’ve earned that. They’ve worked hard to make sure they are the go-to players.
“On the back row, Audrianna gets about anything up. She can read the plays really well. Hannah has really developed her back row attack really well, so that helps too.”
Ferguson said she continues to be impressed with the development of second-year player Paige Bryant. Bryant contributed 33 digs and four aces on Tuesday.
“Having 33 digs speaks for itself,” Ferguson said. “This year, she’s come out and she’s turned into one of our best passers. She gets balls up on defense that aren’t even hers. She covers everybody’s spots. She’s probably one of the most coachable kids I’ve had.”
Abby Storey added 17 digs, five aces, two kills and an assist for Cedar Bluff. Raveen McElrath had 30 assists, 19 digs, a kill and an ace. Marigrace Wilson came away with four kills, two digs and an assist. Brooke Wood finished with six assists, three aces, a kill and a dig.
Cedar Bluff jumped out to a 10-0 lead in game one to cruise to the win, but game two was a much different story.
Gaylesville gained the upper hand early and held a 15-9 lead. Cedar Bluff made things close down the stretch, cutting the deficit to three points at 24-21, but the Lady Trojans were able to hold on and tie the match at a game apiece.
Both teams battled back and forth in the early stages of game three. Up a point at 10-9, Cedar Bluff reeled off seven straight points to take a 17-9 lead.
Gaylesville managed to cut its deficit to two points at 22-20 down the stretch, but Cedar Bluff went on a 5-1 run to close out the third game.
Game four was much like game three, with the Lady Tigers jumping out to the early advantage. Gaylesville came roaring back to make a game of it at 20-14, but Cedar Bluff finished out the game and the match on a 5-2 run.
Alex Montgomery led the Lady Trojans with 11 kills, 10 digs, and an ace. Hannah Van Pelt contributed 14 digs, 12 assists and a pair of kills. Lauren Hammett had 12 digs, two kills and an assist. Taylor Tomlin tallied 10 digs, three kills and an ace. Angie Calvert came away with nine digs, two kills and an ace. Ashley Parris posted nine digs and an assist. Kaitlin Van Pelt finished with four digs and an ace.
“That’s the first time we’ve played like that all year long. I’m proud of them,” Hendon said. “I know we still lost, but we played one of the better teams we’ve played all year long and we played with them instead of getting killed. I feel like we took a step forward today.”
Hendon noted the hustle shown by the Lady Trojans.
“Several times out there, they made some unbelievable digs,” he said. “You’re going to have to play hard like that to beat a good team like Cedar Bluff.”