Panthers fall from the ranks of the unbeaten

Published 10:08 pm Monday, September 11, 2023

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Up to this point in the season, it had been smooth sailing for the Panthers. On Monday, the team faced a tough test in Horseshoe Bend, and the Generals came out on top in three straight sets. 

The match went 25-12, 25-20 and 25-6. 

Head Coach Krisse Story was not pleased with her team’s performance or effort on the floor. 

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“I don’t think we played well tonight,” Story said. “We had a couple of spurts where we played well.” 

Horseshoe Bend led for nearly the entire first set of the match. 

In the second set, Lanett looked to have found momentum. The Panthers went up by seven points at one point in the match. 

Several net infractions and miscommunications led to Horseshoe Bend taking the lead and dominating the end of the set. 

“I thought that we had finally found our mojo,” Story said. “The energy had turned,  and it had for a second. Then, we kind of fell back. I’m not pleased with our passing at all.” 

There were some bright spots in the match for Lanett. 

Makia White finished the match with three blocks, four aces, and one kill. 

Laila Lancaster also played a good match. Lancaster finished with two blocks and three kills. 

“I’m pleased with Laila Lancaster, the way she played at the net [and] Makia White at times,” Story said. “Overall, I’m not satisfied with the way we played tonight, and we definitely have some work we have to do before the area tournament. 

Horseshoe Bend eliminated the Panthers last season in the area tournament in straight sets. Monday was the first chance that Lanett has had to get their revenge for the end of last season. 

The Generals were led by Reagan Taylor and Greenleigh Key. Taylor came up with several clutch kills in the second set after the Panthers had taken a big lead. 

Key was nearly perfect on her serves on the night, and she also had several kills late in the match. 

Key and Taylor were able to find the holes in Lanett’s defense. Some of those holes came from miscommunication on the back line for the Panthers. 

“I think our back row… they just did not do a good job communicating,” Story said. 

Story does not believe her team put their best foot forward in the match. The team did not have an efficient practice prior to the match, and their focus was not where it had been earlier in the season. 

“We did not have a great practice on Thursday, which was the last time we practiced before this match,” Story said. “I always tell the girls, perfect practice makes perfect play. Tonight is a great example of that. I told them before this match, we’re going to play like we practiced and that’s exactly what we did.” 

Lanett lost several points in the match due to net infractions. The Panthers struggled to not touch the net or have their foot over the line when the team went for kills. 

“I’m not sure if the girls just weren’t paying attention, if they were anxious,” Story said. “We’ve not had a lot of that this season.” 

The loss pushed Lanett’s record to 8-1 on the season. With a lot of matches left to play before the area tournament, Story knows the team has a lot to work on to reach their ultimate goal of winning their area championship. 

“Definitely working on passing, and our setter was a little off tonight as well,” Story said. “We want to work on the ball, we want to work on passing and on communication.”