Lady ‘Hawks Fall to Camden

After three straight victories against three tough Columbia schools, the Westwood Redhawks were ready to make it four in a row.  Camden High School had other ideas, however, taking the match in straight sets.

Westwood head coach Amanda Kruysman came away from the earlier loss to Camden with some lessons in hand.

“Our recent wins have been great, morale is up.  We had to work through some things which were tough.  Our girls got to a point where everyone stepped up and took on more of a leadership role which is what I have been looking for this season,” said Kruysman.  “Since our loss to Camden, we have been working on our serve and our defense.  We have been moving and talking a lot better.  Camden doesn’t play slack ball, and we can’t either.”

The players on both sides were obviously wearing a different set of uniforms from their normal school colors.  Kruysman explained why.

“Tonight is pink night.  Our team is wearing pink jerseys and Camden is too.  We are doing this in support of the Side-out Foundation for the prevention of breast cancer. We have raised a few hundred dollars for the foundation and will be presenting a check after the game,” she said.

Game one began with some powerful jump serves by Camden’s Brooke Maxwell.  These serves would haunt Westwood through the whole match.  The game continued with the teams trading points through the first half of the game, with some great blocking by Redhawk’s Taylor Grant, and strong hitting by Journee English. At not quite halfway through, the game was tied 9-9.  Then Brooke Maxwell stepped up to serve again and moved her team ahead by 12-10.  The score remained close for the next few side outs thanks to a great ace serve by Jordan James and digs by Jada Daniels and Victoria Houghton.

The game started to slip away from the Redhawks as better play by Camden ran the score to 23-16.  Camden put the first game away with a service ace by Maggie Speaks.  The final score was 25-17.

At the beginning of game two, the Westwood slide continued as Camden led 13-4 after an ace serve.  Westwood would bring the game to within 5 points, but just too many communication errors prevented Westwood from bringing the game to Camden.  Good lengthy volleys were the rule at the 2/3 point of the game, but most of the breaks went the way of Camden, who prevailed in the end, 25-9.

The third game began again with hard serving by Maxwell, resulting in two service aces in a row for Camden.  Camden would also score the next three points to make the score 5-0.

Some more communications errors and too many free balls contribute to Camden’s ability to control the game.  With the score at 10-3, what seemed like the start of a Camden runaway was stopped by an ace by English, and some other breaks for Westwood.  The Redhawks had reduced Camden’s lead to 3 points, 17-14.

However, it would not be enough.  Too many free balls and careless hitting cost Westwood dearly.  Power server Maxwell stepped up to serve at 23-14, but served it out of bounds.  A kill by Camden would bring up match point.  The game would end 25-17 with Camden winning in straight sets.

When asked what the difference was between winning and losing tonight, Kruysman said she noticed several things.

“We just seemed kind of flat.  We had a lack of energy, a lack of communications, a lack of spark.  Whenever Camden would score, they got excited about it.  Our team didn’t have the enthusiasm to celebrate the small stuff.  I think that’s what got us.”

On the subject of free balls (balls that are returned over the net but not attacked) Kruysman said: “We practice avoiding free balls endlessly.  Especially against a team like Camden who moves well and talks well, we can’t give them a free ball because they will give it back to us a lot harder.  I tell my team over and over, ‘more free balls equal more points for them.’  Tonight, the more free balls we gave them, the deeper in the hole we got.”

Last week when the Westwood’s homecoming queen was crowned, the school elected none other than Jada Daniels, the team’s libero.  After the game, Kruysman said that three Richland 2 schools have elected volleyball players as homecoming queens, the other two being Richland Northeast and Blythewood.

Two more games remain on the schedule, and then the team heads for post-season play in Pickens.

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