Panthers clinch playoff berth, but fall in area final

Published 10:14 pm Wednesday, October 18, 2023

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The Lanett Panthers secured a playoff spot but fell in the 2A-Area 6 final to Horseshoe Bend. The Generals won the match in straight sets. 

To advance to the final, Lanett secured a dominant win over Reeltown. The Panthers won in straight sets. It went 25-22, 25-18 and 25-12. 

“I think we played a really good match against Reeltown,” Lanett coach Krisse Story said. “We made some errors and mistakes, but overall I was satisfied with the way we played.” 

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Horseshoe Bend came in as the top seed, and the Generals had their way in the final. It went 25-10, 25-15 and 25-19. The Panthers battled in the third set and tied it up late, but ultimately Horseshoe Bend went on a six-point run to close the match out. 

“That third set I was thinking that, ok maybe we’re going to recover, but our energy was just not there,” Story said. “I was not pleased at all with our play against Horseshoe Bend.” 

With the loss, Lanett is set to face Area Eight champion, Isabella, in the first round of the playoffs. 

After the Horseshoe Bend match, Story saw several things that needed to be improved for her team to have any chance of advancing past the first round. The Panthers struggled to break serve and make accurate passes on the back line. 

“Our passes were atrocious,” Story said. “We’ve not done that in a long time. Our serving was a little better, but I think that overall communication and definitely our passing has to get better.” 

The officiating in area tournaments is much different than any regular season game. For one, instead of players or fans line judging, there are dedicated officials set as line judges. There are also several rules that were called more tightly than they are during the regular season. 

The Panthers’ primary setter, Tamia Spratling, was called for double hits on several of her sets. It had never been called during the regular season on her sets. That change to her setting was a tough adjustment to make during the postseason. 

“I really like the way they’re called during the area tournament,” Story said. “I think that had we gotten officials who were a little bit more knowledgeable that would have been able to be corrected before now. I do like the fact that we have officials as line judges too.”