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The South Central High School volleyball team admittedly made too many unforced mistakes in the championship game of the Vandalia Tournament on Saturday.
Against Carlyle, those errors added up quickly, as the Lady Cougars struggled in the middle of both sets of the 23-25, 16-25 loss.
"Overall (today), I thought we played well," said coach Mary Brimberry. "Whenever we get (to the high school gym), we haven't been able to play for championships.
"It's been that way for the last few years, but I can't fault our girls."
The Lady Cougars have always been in the pool that plays at the junior high, and Brimberry said she will not be lobbying to get her team into the high school pool, just so it can be adjusted to the high school gym.
And that's fine, because the current system had produced plenty of good volleyball for the Lady Cougars.
The team swept its games in pool play to advance to the championship, to play a Carlyle team that had just dispatched Vandalia in the final game of pool play.
The Carlyle game saw a back-and-forth start, with ties coming on points 2-7.
But then South Central started to play sloppy, committing three errors in four serves to fall behind, 13-9.
Another string of four straight errors allowed the Lady Indians to eventually push their lead to 18-12.
"We made a lot of unforced errors, and we know that," Brimberry said. "That's why our heads are down. It's not because we got beat; it's because we beat ourselves."
But after a timeout, the Lady Cougars began to play better, eventually closing the gap to 19-16 on three straight kills – two by Kallie Garrett and one by Kinzie Neilson.
A couple of Carlyle errors later, and South Central trailed by just one, at 21-20.
Carlyle would get back to a 24-20 lead, but a kill from Sarah Kramer, a block from Lexi Schafer and an ace from Kellie Crain put South Central right back in the game, down 24-23.
"We were trying to find some spots," Brimberry said. "Momentum is everything, and sometimes that little hit is what you need."
Carlyle, however, would kill off the next serve the take the set.
The second set also featured several ties at the beginning, the final one coming at 9-9, but there were a few leads interspersed, including a 9-6 advantage for the Lady Cougars that came behind strong serving from Neilson.
But right after taking that lead, Carlyle reeled off nine straight points – including five off of South Central attack errors.
Schafer's serves helped get South Central back within three at 16-13, but the Lady Cougars would score just three more points the rest of the way – two of which came on kills by each Emily Atwood and Neilson, and the third on a Carlyle service error.
SCHS 25, Brownstown 16
SCHS 25, Brownstown 10
SCHS 25, Roxana 7
SCHS 25, Roxana 12
Greenville 25, SCHS 12
SCHS 25, Greenville 22
SCHS 15, Greenville 8
Title game stats
Kills: Atwood, 6; Neilson, 5; Garrett, 4; Schafer, 2; Kramer, 1.
Aces: Natalie Chapman, 1; Crain, 1; Neilson, 1; Schafer, 1.
Assists: Kramer, 9; Chapman, 6; Schafer, 1.
Blocks: Schafer, 1; Neilson, 1.