Lady Knights drop hard-fought match

Published 9:40 pm Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Suffolk Christian Academy girls’ volleyball team kept coming close against host Gateway Christian School on Monday, eventually taking a game, but ultimately falling in four sets to close the regular season. The Lady Crusaders won 25-21, 25-22, 24-26, 25-15.

In some ways the match resembled the Lady Knights’ season. Though the conference tournament still remains, SCA head coach Kristy Patton looked back over the regular season, describing it as a rough one. The team ended up 2-13 overall, 1-9 in the conference.

Two senior starters ended up not being consistently available due to work obligations, and the team has a young roster more appropriate for the junior varsity level.

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The difficulties have forced Patton to step back and figure out what her overall goal is.

“My overall goal was to see our program develop into something competitive, and sometimes that means you’ve got to take your lumps and bruises,” she said.

Monday night delivered some of those, along with several positives.

“I was pleased with our effort, not so much pleased with the result,” Patton said.

The Lady Knights lost senior setter Hannah Fagan due to work scheduling conflicts. Senior outside hitter Caitlin Hankins has not missed many matches, but last night was one, forcing eighth-grader Jenna Rondeau to fill in at outside hitter.

Though Rondeau has been playing mostly on the JV team this year, she was in for the entire match on Monday, had five kills and “played like she’s been playing varsity all along,” Patton said.

Eighth-grade middle hitter Miriam Farmer led the Lady Knights with nine kills and freshman setter Grace Fowler registered 22 assists.

Patton admitted she has been very hard on Fowler, giving her expectations beyond her years in Fagan’s absence, but said, “She kind of came into her own last night.”

“She was just in the right position all night long, and I was really pleased with her effort,” Patton said.

Some Suffolk Christian players did not have statistics to their names, but still turned in good performances, including junior libero Kelly Lester and sophomore outside hitter Paxton Longo.

“Both of those girls were really on last night as far as passing goes,” Patton said.

Freshman middle hitter Jordan Edler does not typically play back row, but she logged experience there on Monday with positive results.

Patton said, “She’s actually a great back row player, she’s just not confident in her abilities.”

One reason the Lady Knights are so young is a consequence of the decision to have three girls’ volleyball teams: varsity, junior varsity and middle school.

Patton said when talent is spread out over three teams, it is going to cause some weakness somewhere, and it was evident on the varsity team this year. However, in the future, the system should yield experienced varsity players.

By the time the middle school girls become juniors and seniors, “they’ll be a nice, oiled machine,” Patton said.

“Our future is bright as long as you can get past the frustration of the present.”

The coach has not given up on the conference tournament, however, which is tentatively scheduled to begin for Suffolk Christian on Monday at Virginia Beach Friends School. The opponent was not set as of Tuesday afternoon, but Patton is anticipating either Gateway or the Beach Breakers. “Both teams we’re capable of beating,” she said.