Rebuilding Scott City volleyball team displays grit in opening loss

Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Fredricktown’s Terra Helm tries to block a shot from Scott City’s Natalie Woods on Monday in Scott City. Fredricktown won the match in three games. (Laura Simon)

Scott City isn't the veteran, powerhouse volleyball team of years past.

Yet the Rams proved Monday night they will be a challenge for most teams in 2012.

The host Rams opened their season with a 15-25, 25-21, 20-25 loss to Fredericktown.

"This is the first time this group has played together at all," first-year coach Steven Hendricks said. "We've got one freshman brand new, a sophomore who's playing her first real varsity experience and another freshman playing her first game -- she splits time between JV and varsity. So we're expecting to come out and have growing pains. ... But we're expecting to play hard the first game and we're coming together as a team, and we liked everything we saw."

Scott City has a difficult task in replacing six seniors who were part of the Rams' Class 2 state title team in 2009.

Fredricktown react as Scott City's Aimee Lathum misses the return Monday, Aug. 27, 2012 in Scott City. Fredricktown won 2-1. (Laura Simon)

The Rams are going to play hard and compete if Monday's game was any indication.

"We graduated six seniors," Hendricks said. "It's something that we talk about a little bit. We don't have the same team we've had before, but we have the same tradition."

The young Rams were shell shocked at the start of the first game.

The Black Cats pounced early for an 8-1 lead.

"We tried to just stay with our momentum up the whole time," Fredericktown coach Billie Hinkle said. "We practice a lot of serves. We just want to stay on top and keep it that way."

Scott City’s Abbie McAlister spikes the ball past Fredricktown blocker Cortney Hampton on Monday in Scott City. (Laura Simon)

The Rams eventually gained their composure and tied the first game at 11-11 on a serve from senior Jackie Schroeder. That provoked a Fredericktown timeout.

The Black Cats returned to the court and seized control, winning the next six points and going up 17-11 before coasting to a 25-15 win.

"We have lapses," Hendricks said. "We play great for 10 to 15 points, and then we have these lapses for four to six points, and those are what kill us. We're going to get better at that with practice and especially later in the season."

The lapses were absent in the second game, which was tied 14-14 before the Rams gained the upper hand.

Freshman Abbie McAlister sparked the Rams' revival.

Scott City’s Aimee Lathum bumps during the match against Fredricktown on Monday in Scott City. (Laura Simon)

"I started getting in the groove and I wasn't nervous anymore," McAlister said. "I was nervous coming in as a freshman, but then once I started getting going with senior Heather [Kessee], I started feeling good."

McAlister was a bright spot for Scott City. She pounded kill after kill to get the Rams back in the game.

The freshman said the Rams will have to work hard in order to achieve the status of previous teams.

"We're coming into practice a lot, working hard, going over the fundamentals a lot," McAlister said. "We have to get together as a new team, so we have to talk a lot more and just to get to know each other a lot better."

McAlister had a kill to push the Rams ahead 16-14, then smashed another ball for a 18-16 lead. She then deftly tipped a ball to give the Rams a 20-17 cushion.

"When she gets in a rhythm, she can hit with anyone, especially as a freshman -- her first time doing this," Hendricks said. "When she gets older, she's not going to back down from anyone. She's going to have the ability to really dominate games. We've got a lot of good things to look forward to."

Fredericktown regained momentum in the final game, grabbing a 12-4 lead and holding on.

Scott City got as close as 23-19 but failed to convert on several opportunities.

Fredericktown senior Terra Helm was a force in the middle for the Black Cats with blocks, kills and plenty of energy.

"She's our senior," Hinkle said. "She's played center for us, I believe, since she was a freshman. She stays strong, and she's usually a very consistent hitter."

Scott City will visit Grandview tonight.

McAlister is anxiously awaiting her next chance.

"I'm just happy to be here playing with all of them and can't wait to play my next game." McAlister said.

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