She said the Class 2A, No. 6 Lady Wildcats had not been playing up to their potential the past week, but Bates began to see her team get back to form on Monday at home against the Cherokee County Lady Warriors.
Sand Rock jumped out to an early two-game advantage and held on in four games for the match win. The scores were 25-15, 25-19, 23-25, 25-16.
“All last week, we were out of synch. We weren’t playing us. We just weren’t clicking,” Bates said. “Today I felt like we got back on track. It wasn’t our best performance, but we looked better.”
As usual, the Lady Wildcats (22-4) won on the strength of their hitters. Amber Ashley posted 16 kills while Madison Smith added 14 kills and 17 digs.
Ashley Norris contributed 32 assists. Meredith Trail and Hannah Oliver both had 16 digs. Maggie Lyn Lumsden finished with four blocks.
While Bates was pleased to see the consistency she’s accustomed to seeing from her club, Cherokee County coach Leah Monteith Goss was disappointed with the lack of consistency from hers.
Monteith Goss noted the Lady Warriors (10-12) had a total of just seven kills in the first two games.
“It’s frustrating that it’s taking us until game two to wake up and play,” she said. “It’s getting old at this point of the season. We should be more mature by now. We were playing very timid. Once we got going, we created some opportunities to score, but you can’t play defense the whole time.
“Sand Rock is a good team, but I felt like we were not playing up to our potential. When we do that, we’re pretty good, but we were lacking a little fire tonight.”
Madison Millsaps and Kayle Moon led the Lady Warriors with seven kills apiece. Jessen Burk contributed 10 digs and Kate Carter came away with nine digs. Heather Hubbard finished with 22 assists.
After struggling the first two games, Cherokee County came around in the third game. The Lady Warriors jumped out to a 10-point advantage at 19-9 before Sand Rock rallied to make things interesting.
“We were served off the court in that third game,” Bates said. “We weren’t hitting our spots. We missed seven serves. We have to do better on that, but we battled back. I was proud of them for not laying down.”
The fourth game was tight throughout until Sand Rock went on a 6-0 run late, capped off by Smith’s final kill for the game and the match.
Monday’s match was the first against a county team for Sand Rock this season. The Lady Wildcats will get their feel of county teams on Saturday at the Cherokee County Tournament, hosted by Gaylesville.
The Lady Wildcats open defense of last year’s title against the winner of Saturday’s 9 a.m. match between the Lady Warriors and Gaylesville.
“I’m looking forward to a competitive county tournament,” Bates said.