The Bauxite Lady Miners kept their winning ways going Thursday night on the road in 4A West Conference action. Bauxite won its fourth straight match, sweeping the Camden Fairview Lady Cardinals 3-0 (25-19, 25-21, 25-16) to improve to 5-1 overall, 4-0 in conference action.
“Before the game I was a curious to see how we would be affected by the longest bus ride of our year so far,” Bauxite Coach Dave Carter said. “Thankfully we were not too adversely affected by the longer ride, nor by having fewer players on the bus from COVID travel guidelines and restrictions.”
The Lady Miners stuck with it, despite some tough calls by the officiating, according to Carter.
“This team showed some resilience in adapting to many changes, almost daily now, to the travel and to some challenging officiating,” he said. “I’m not one to complain about officials much, but sometimes we have to overcome that aspect of the games and we did. It often seemed that we’d catch a little momentum and try to go on a run, yet a poor call would stymie us. That affected us mentally some. We got down but fought back. The officials would not have determined the match by any means, but we had to focus on those things we can control and only that and find a way to win. We did that. I am very proud of my girls for sticking tough, for sticking to what we can control and pulling out another straight set win.”
Carter and the Lady Miners schemed the Lady Cardinals well. Though not perfect by any means, they got the job done.
“The game plan was to keep the ball away from their primary outside hitter by serving aggressively and attacking strong,” Carter said. “We had 15 total aces, but also 20 service errors. I don’t really want big ace numbers in most matches because I know if we serve that aggressively we’re going to miss more. But most of our errors tonight were ones I don’t get upset about. We hit the top of the net or served just long in many of our errors, so we were aggressive like I hoped we would be. Even with the errors we pushed them. We had 32 kills, a good number for us in three sets, so between hard serves and firm hits, we minimized their attack. But we also had too many unforced errors. That hurt us as much as anything.”
Bauxite junior Haley Howard led the way at the net, picking up 11 kills with two aces, with junior Jaylin Rhoades adding eight kills and an ace. Sophomore setter Kayla Bubbus had 30 assists on those 32 kills, adding three kills and three aces.
“Bubbus again set the ball well,” Carter said. “She’s growing up fast and controlling the offense as well as I hoped she might. Howard was solid in passing and on the attack. Another good night for her leading the offense. Rhoades finds the floor on hits and tips as well as anyone on our squad; she did that again.”
Junior Paige Shepard stepped up with five kills and sophomore Lexi Bright had three put downs. Sophomore Bryley Bowman and senior Riley Larkin had four aces each to lead the squad, with Larkin adding a kill and a dig, while junior Victoria Lockhart had an ace and kill of her own.
“Shepard is growing into the role I am asking her to play,” Carter said. “She is learning with every set. Lockhart, Bowman and Larkin have become comfortable covering the back line. I like how they have gelled and shy away from no hitter.”
The Lady Miners will go out of conference Monday to take on Conway Christian on the road before returning home to host Fountain Lake (Tuesday) and Magnolia (Thursday).
“We will commit significant time to improving our serves in practice over the next week. I can assure you that,” Carter said. “But overall we’re coming together nicely as a team and are working well together. I’m encouraged by that with our next couple of weeks bringing what might prove to be the biggest challenges of our season so far. We are looking forward to the challenge.”