Lady Bengals Sweep ‘Hawks in First Meeting

Taylor McQueen sets up the return from the Lady Redhawks as Dominique Williams (9) and Deja Sims-Dean prepare for the kill.

The Blythewood High School Lady Bengals brought their killer offense to Westwood High to play a best-of five match against the injury plagued Lady Redhawks Monday night. The Bengals reigned victorious in three games, 25-5, 25-7 and 25-18.

“We knew Westwood was not 100 percent today. We knew we could control the game, offense, defense, all of it,” said Blythewood head coach Mary Hall. “We were working on fine tuning.”

The Lady Redhawks were playing without two injured key players, Journee English and Jamila Minor. Both girls are outside hitters, and they are the team’s only outside hitters. Not only were the skills of these two players sorely missed, but the team was forced to replace these players with others who were not familiar with the resulting rotation. A good example was setter Jordan Jones, who was used as an outside hitter, limiting the ‘Hawks advantage of her magic setting hands.

“Our team is playing tough, they have heart. I was surprised that they came up with some plays of their own,” said Redhawks assistant coach Ciji Kuhlmann.

Offense was the other thing that set the teams apart. Because of the hard-hitting offense of the Bengals, it was enough for the ‘Hawks just to return the ball over the net. Nearly every free ball returned to Blythewood was set up to either Meredith Jones (sister of Redhawks’ Jordan Jones), Abreia Epps or Tiera Daugherty for the kill. On the other hand, free balls coming to Westwood would be returned as quickly as possible instead of setting them up for the kill.

After the first game, Redhawks’ coach Amanda Kruysman tried her best to maintain the morale of her team and put the effect of the injured players in perspective.

“We have to make the best of it. We get it that it’s different, we get it that it’s hard. We made the mistakes, they didn’t make us,” Kruysman told her players.

The second game began relatively even, but some of the same Westwood mistakes crept in and at the same time the Blythewood offense was able to find the holes in the Westwood defense. The game ended with Blythewood winning 25-7.

The third game was a different story. Helped along by some breaks going Westwood’s way and a service ace by freshman Stephanie Keesee, the score at mid-game was 12-10 Blythewood. On the next serve, Blythewood served the ball out of bounds. The play after, the score became tied 13-13 thanks to a Bengal communication error.

This would be the high water mark for the Redhawks. The game and match would end 25-18. Hall said she wasn’t worried about the third game.

“I think my girls just slacked off a bit,” Hall said. “I don’t like them thinking they can give less than a full effort and then pull the game back when they want. Sometimes it doesn’t work that way, you can’t always come back.”

After the game, Kruysman appeared disappointed, but was philosophical about the outcome.

“We expected it to be tough. It was rough going into the game having not played this lineup before. It was going to be rough with this rotation no matter which team we played,” said Kruysman. “We are looking forward to our first region game this Thursday against Chapin, here at home.”