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Win one, lose one

Coyotes best Bayard before falling to Kimball

 

It was a night of ups and downs for Potter-Dix.

After knocking down Bayard in two sets to open Tuesday night’s triangular at Kimball, the Coyotes fell in three to the hosts—capturing the first in thrilling fashion, slumbering through the next then rebounding to battle the Longhorns deep into the finale.

In droll numbers, Potter-Dix beat 25-22, 25-19. In the nightcap, the opened with a 27-25 win, then dropped the last two by scores of 25-10 and 25-21. But the last was a series of almosts, in which the Coyotes closed, but only so far.

“We just couldn’t do it,” said Morgan Wolff.

Kimball had controlled a match between the rivals earlier in the year. But this is a much improved Coyotes squad, one that recently shocked Creek Valley on the Storm’s home floor. Although they fell behind early in the third set, three consecutive ace serves by freshman Dawson Sharman and a fourth serve that Kimball wedged into the net after a brief volley flipped things in the visitor’s favor, 8-5.

Potter-Dix extended their advantage to 11-6 moments later, after a strong stand at the net by Wolff and Alexus Rozelle.

With Kelly Green and then Courtney Hunsaker at the line for Kimball, the Longhorns came roaring back. Potter-Dix struggled to return several serves and was charged with one fault during a run that saw the hosts recapture the lead, 17-13.

“We had too many unforced errors,” Regyn Hicks acknowledged.

For the next several minutes Kimball threatened to break the final wide open. But Hicks essayed a clever swipe at the net, sending the ball into a gap in the Longhorns’ defense.

It was a reflexive move. “I just saw the open spot,” she said.

The shot narrowed the margin to 21-18. Moments later, Ryley Hicks fed Rozelle for a vicious hit to the back line, making it a 22-20 affair. In the end, however, Kimball’s Danika Daum and Madison Biesecker proved too tough. The Longhorns closed things out at 25-21.

“We had chances,” coach Kristi Jung observed. “We just have to find that final push.”

In the first set, the Coyotes trailed by as much as seven at times. They began scratching away at the lead when Sharman pieced together a brief service run, aided by the work of Regyn Hicks and Kinley Vowers at the net, narrowing the score to 17-14.

Kimball closed on set point. But the Coyotes countered. With Rozelle serving and the Longhorns unable to return, Potter-Dix managed to knot things at 22-22.

The sides locked up again at 23, thanks to a neat shot by Regyn Hicks, at 24 when Kimball’s Daum rose to reject a lob by Wolff and at 25 after the Longhorns failed to return a well-aimed Hicks tap.

This time Potter-Dix wrapped things up in their favor, with Sharman on the service line.

 

Potter-Dix 27 10 21

Kimball 25 25 25

 

 

The Coyotes win over Bayard in their opener was a matter of set piece precision. Over and over, Ryley Hicks fed Rozelle, her sister Regyn, Wolff or Vowers for critical points.

Although the Tigers crept back in late in the match behind the powerful net presence of Hannah Lenhart, the Hicks sisters teamed up twice to finish things off. The final score—25-22—was closer than the run of play.

The second set required a Coyotes comeback, as well as some deft play by Sharman.

Down 18-14 and behind for 13 consecutive serves, Rozelle started the rally by slamming an explosive kill through the Bayard defense. Wolff followed with a pair of aces. Moments later, Rozelle issued a clever tap over the last Tigers’ defender to even the matter at 19-19.

Sharman took over from there. With the score tied and service in the hands of Vowers, Bayard stitched together a return and a brief volley. The Tigers looked to have the critical point won when a lofted shot sailed toward an unguarded spot of Potter-Dix floor. But Sharman scrambled, hit the floor and knocked a fortunate return that Bayard could not handle.

“No one else was going for it,” Sharman said with a shrug.

On the very next serve, the diminutive freshman won a battle at the net, handing Potter-Dix a 21-19 advantage.

“That was really exciting,” she admitted, proud of besting Bayard’s lanky front line. “I’m not that tall.”

Sharman added another point, with an assist from Ryley Hicks to bring matters to match point. Vowers ended the contest with a wicked, dipping ace serve, putting an exclamation to the Coyotes victory.

 

Potter-Dix 25 25

Bayard 22 19

 

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