ROACHDALE — A storied season came to a close Saturday for the 12-9 Mounties volleyball squad, losing in four sets to North Putnam in the second round of Class 2A Sectional 44 action.
The Mounties defeated Cloverdale Oct. 15 in three sets during round one, but rallies and a strong offense couldn’t overcome a stingy Cougar defense that kept South’s chances of repeating as Sectional champs just out of reach: 25-21, 24-26, 25-8, 25-23.
Head Coach Lauran Nichols said her girls couldn’t find their rhythm Saturday against the Cougars (16-12), who swept the Mounties in exhibition play earlier in the season.
“We had a different lineup than the first time we played them; we just didn’t execute the game plan that we wanted to today,” she said. “We knew we were gonna have to come in and play an intense game and play hard. (The Cougars) always do, and they did.”
North Putnam managed to maintain the lead through most of the match, which only saw four lead changes in four sets. The Cougars were led in the first set by junior Zoey Dickson whose five service aces proved to be too much.
Southmont fought back after losing the first set 25-21, pushing the second into extended play to top North Put 26-24.
The Mounties stopped many would-be runs by the Cougars to keep the score within two points throughout the set, benefiting from key blocks by sophomore Dara Watson and freshman Chelsea Veatch.
The Mounties also got a push from senior Kaley Remley and Sidney Veatch, both coming up with key kills and an ace to tie the set at 7-7, 13-13 and 24-24 before finally scoring two unanswered to win the set 26-24.
But the second set effort wasn’t enough to overcome the Cougars, falling in sets three and four by scores of 25-8 and 25-23.
The Mounties end the season with a 12-9 overall record and finish first in the Sagamore with a 6-2 conference record — a season in constant jeopardy due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
“There was one point where we weren’t even sure if we were going to get to play,” Nichols said. “To be able to come finish the season and keep everybody healthy ... thankfully the Lord kept us all safe and healthy.”
As for seniors who saw their final match Saturday in a Mountie uniform, Nichols said she is thrilled to have been a part of their high school athletic careers.
“I’ve had Natalie, Sid and Kaley; they’ve been four-year varsity starters. To see them transform as people, as leaders and as volleyball players is an honor,” she said. “They’re great kids and they’re great people. We will miss them so much.”