NEW ALBANY —
The host New Albany Bulldogs played well at times in losing in straight sets to Class 4A No. 6 Seymour, falling to the Hoosier Hills Conference rival Owls 25-23, 25-23, 25-15 at The Doghouse on Thursday night.
The Bulldogs (10-8) leaped out to a 9-6 first-set lead, but gave up four consecutive Seymour points as the set became knotted up at nine apiece. There would be five more lead changes throughout the first set, and a kill from Bulldog hitter Alexis Lete tied the first frame up at 23-all.
A kill from Seymour’s Taylor Sutton and a New Albany kill attempt that sailed long gave the Owls (22-2) the first set.
It was a similar story in the second set, as a service ace from setter Jessica Lucas and ensuing block of a Lete kill attempt from Lucas gave the Owls the final two points and a 25-23 win.
Seymour scored the first five points of the third set. A block from Lete on a kill attempt from Seymour’s Megan Kimbley brought New Albany to within 16-12. But the Owls rattled off the next four points to take control of the set — and the match.
Despite the loss, New Albany coach John Breeding was pleased with the way his squad competed.
Breeding was complimentary of the Owls, but said that winning one of those first two sets really could have swung the momentum, potentially leading to a different outcome.
“We had momentum going for us, and I was proud of our girls because we’ve been working to give ourselves an opportunity to win against good teams,” Breeding said. “Seymour is a really, really good team. You like to believe that if we’d have had a shot to get one of those games, we’d have had a better shot.”
Seymour has four players, including Lucas, that stand 6 feet or above and play at the net, which gives the Owls an advantage. Lete, at 6-foot-2, is New Albany’s only player that is as tall.
When Seymour was making its run early in the third set, Lucas blocked three kill attempts from Lete and set up her teammates for two scoring strikes as well to account for the first five points.
Lucas stuffed the stat sheet with 23 assists, seven blocks, five kills and three aces.
“She’s tall and she’s strong. But more than that, she’s just a really, really good setter,” Breeding said of Lucas. “She is one of the best around.”
The Bulldogs will travel to Indianapolis Cathedral Invitational on Saturday.
At the midseason point, Breeding is encouraged with how his squad has played against a very tough schedule.
“You know, there’s a month left in the season, and I think we know that we need to keep getting better and working hard,” he said. “There’s a lot of room for improvement, but this is a good bunch of kids who want to get better.”
SEYMOUR 25 25 25
NEW ALBANY 23 23 15
Assists — New Albany: Lindsay Harper 12, Sadie Meyer 7.
Kills — New Albany: Alexis Lete 10, Audrey Donastorg 9, Brook McCoy 7.