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Eagles seize momentum, top Argylls in 4 sets

By CHUCK LANDIS - clandis@chronicle-tribune.com

CONVERSE — Alyssa Carmichael used her service Tuesday evening to rescue Oak Hill from defeat in the second set and turn around its match with visiting Madison-Grant.

The Argylls were sitting on set point leading 24-20 when Carmichael stepped up to serve. The junior helped the Golden Eagles score six unanswered points to rally for a 26-24 victory, and ultimately a 3-1 decision against their county rivals in the Central Indiana Conference match.

After losing the first set 25-18, the Eagles evened the match with their second set win and followed up with 25-20 and 25-19 victories to clinch it.

Oak Hill moved to 10-6, 2-1 CIC. Madison-Grant dropped to 5-9, 0-4.

“Yes, I was very nervous,” Carmichael said about serving, “but I went back there and told myself I had to make it over (the net). Just make it over an inch, and it worked,

“... We were so positive throughout the whole game and it worked at the end,” she added.

Madison-Grant had not lost to Oak Hill in nearly a decade, according to Argylls coach Bob Holloway, and was on the verge of opening a 2-0 advantage. But the Argylls’ collapse started with a net serve on set point that gave side out to the Eagles.

“We kind of fell apart,” Holloway said. “We had the same senior server do that three or four times this year at 24, and it’s a little disappointing we make mistakes at 24.

“We started passing poorly they got (six) points and got the momentum and we just didn’t get out of it,” he added.

Carmichael, daughter of first-year Eagles coach Kristi Carmichael, said she was aiming to the Argylls’ back right row with her hard-struck serves. The Argylls had trouble receiving her serves and three of the Eagles’ points came on hitting and passing errors, and then middle Ashlyn Transier delivered back-to-back kills that completed the comeback.

“That was pretty sweet,” coach Carmichael said of her daughter’s service. “I had every confidence that she would get them over. Sometimes she misses, but when it counts she usually comes through.

“I’m really proud — not with the way they started,” she added. “They were like in slow motion and I kept challenging them to move faster and get to the block and serve faster, and then it all came together in that comeback. It gave us the momentum.”

And Oak Hill never lost momentum with middle hitters Transier and Taylor Westgate taking over the match in the third and fourth sets. Neither was a factor early with Oak Hill having serve-receive issues, but once that was corrected Transier went on to deliver 16 kills and Westgate followed with 14 kills.

Coach Carmichael doesn’t play Transier and Westgate at the same time, but both were controlling the middle during their time on the front row. Transier also had four blocks and Westgate had three blocks.

“When one goes out the other comes in and I’ve always got that presence in the front row,” she said. “I don’t want to ever not have one or the other on the front row. They are both middles and no way they can be opposite of each other, and the only way to play them both is if one of them played back row ... and I have other people who can do that.”

In the third set Madison-Grant led 5-4 but then fell victim to another hot Oak Hill server. Ella Ridgeway stepped up and led a seven-point run which included a service ace and the Eagles opened a 10-5 lead they maintained the remainder of the set.

A turning point in the fourth set came after the Argylls pulled to within 16-15 and Westgate delivered a kill over a block, starting a 4-0 Eagles run. The Argylls later pulled to within 20-18, but then Westgate and Transier delivered back-to-back kills. Oak Hill then closed out the match with Lexi Carmichael, also a daughter of the coach, serving up an ace on match point.

Early in the match, serve-reception was an Argylls strength and propelled them to the first set victory by forcing the Eagles into mistakes. Holloway returned Brooke Butcher, who had been playing libero, back to setter, and the Argylls had trouble passing as the match progressed.

“I brought up a lot of jayvee girls who have been working on their passing and I rolled the dice a little bit,” Holloway said. “Could we afford not to use (Butcher) back in serve reception when she’s our best passer, and some of our girls didn’t pass particularly well — and we tried a lot of them.”

Ridgeway finished with 22 assists and Lexi Carmichael had 17 assists in setting up the Eagles hitters. Brittany McCorkle and Coleena Selleck led the defense with 11 digs apiece, and Abby Shaw contributed 10 digs.

Mia Stewart topped Madison-Grant with 16 digs and 10 blocks, while Katie Garringer had nine kills and served three aces. Butcher finished with 24 assists and also had 10 digs. Sadie Wilson led with 12 digs and Carley Bramel had 11 digs.

Madison-Grant hopes Wapahani at 6 p.m. today.