Lady Crusaders fall to tough foe

Published 11:30 pm Friday, September 2, 2011

First Baptist’s Janna Williams sets for a Crusader teammate during Thursday night’s match at Atlantic Shores. The Lady Crusaders opened their season with a win against BEACH on Tuesday but fell in straight sets, 25-5, 25-16, 25-22, to Atlantic Shores.

First Baptist’s volleyball squad opened its season with a three-set win over BEACH on Tuesday evening, but the Lady Crusaders probably learned more through their experience Thursday night in a loss.

Host Atlantic Shores routed the Lady Crusaders early on before the visitors took up the challenge, yet couldn’t turn the match around, in a 25-5, 25-16, 25-22 win for the Lady Seahawks.

“We’re looking forward to a really good season, just tonight, Atlantic Shores is really tough,” said First Baptist head coach Joseph Cockrell.

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In the opening set and part of the way into the second set, Lady Seahawk serves often were enough to win points. The home team also set and hit well, something that First Baptist doesn’t usually see in its conference.

“Our defense is designed to cover the court and be ready for free balls more often than not. It works well for us, except when we play a strong hitting team, like Atlantic Shores,” Cockrell said.

Atlantic Shores ran off 10 straight points for a 12-2 lead in the second set. The Lady Crusaders rallied for the first time in the match with a 7-0 rally on Christine Joslin’s service.

Joslin served a pair of aces in the run while all of the Lady Crusaders started keeping points alive and making things tougher on Atlantic Shores.

The Lady Seahawks still took the second set by a fairly easy margin. Set three, though, went back and forth throughout.

Another good stretch of Joslin’s serving switched a Lady Seahawk lead into a 9-7 First Baptist advantage.

Megan Farmer scored on a kill and Abby Cockrell followed with an ace for a 14-12 Lady Crusader lead. An ace by Farmer made it 17-14 First Baptist.

Five straight Lady Seahawk points proved the last lead change of the game. First Baptist had a chance to tie the score at 20-19 and fought off three match points before Atlantic Shores clinched the win.

The Lady Crusaders have the most experience they’ve had on any of their rosters through their young history. The varsity program started with juniors as the upperclassmen three seasons ago.

Seniors Joslin, Farmer, Cockrell and Tiffany Stancil are each in at least their fourth years in Lady Crusader volleyball.

Junior setter Janna Williams transferred from Lakeland to First Baptist. She had 10 assists in the win against BEACH and five assists against Atlantic Shores.

“She’s brought a bunch of positive energy to the team out there. Her energy keeps us going,” Cockrell said.

Along with Joslin as the team’s libero, junior Anna Carr is another defensive leader.

“Last year was her first year playing volleyball, but she’s such a good athlete and makes defensive plays for us,” Cockrell said.

First Baptist hosts Gateway Christian on Thursday starting at 5:45 p.m. It’s a rematch of last season’s Seven Cities Athletic Conference Tournament final in which Gateway won the conference title.