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One of the oldest sayings in sport is that the best defense is a great offense.
Cliched, no doubt, but true.
Such was case Thursday night when Shelby County swept home-standing Anderson County in volleyball action. Shelby rolled to a 25-10 win in the first game but had to score the final two points to claim a 26-24 victory in game two.
Anderson, which had squeaked by Henry County on the road two nights earlier, saw its chance to take an early lead in the District 28 seeding race go by the boards. Lady Bearcat head coach Jason McDannold said it was all about a failure to put pressure on the Lady Rockets.
“The other night at Henry County, we had 106 attack attempts,” McDannold said. “Tonight we had 36. You have got to pass, you have got to attack and you have got to play defense.”
Shelby took advantage of a total Lady Cat meltdown in the first game, using a four-point service from Keyshia Patterson to grab a quick 6-2 lead, then cruised as many Shelby attacks were unchallenged and the Lady Bearcats often appeared confused.
“That first game was a debacle,” McDannold said. “It was a lack of focus. Our game preparation was not where it should be. We dug ourselves into a hole and could not get out.
“Shelby had more consistency than we did.”
McDannold, coaching his first home match, said the Lady Cats' woes were unrelated to learning a new system. “They are learning but my system had nothing to do with it. We were not focused.”
Shelby appeared ready to make quick work of the second game as well, jumping to a 10-4 lead. While Anderson's Hannah Smith was outstanding at the net with three kills, it was Shelby's sudden mistakes and a nice service from Ariel Riley that got the Lady Bearcats back into it. Three different times, Shelby was called for being in or under the net and the Lady Bearcats finally took their first lead of the night at 13-12 when the Lady Rockets were whistled for two hits in trying to return Bethany Hardin's serve.
From that point, the teams traded leads until Shelby's Megan Russell scored a kill that made it 21-20. The Lady Rockets never trailed again. Leanna Armstrong powered a kill and Russell scored on a block to give Shelby a commanding 23-20 lead but Anderson battled back to a 24-all tie when Chelsea Payne spiked off an assist from K.K. Fitzpatrick. But Shelby tallied the final two points for the match win.
“We started playing much better together as a team in the second game, but we put ourselves in a position to be beaten by breaks. They had one that rolled along the net, had some other breaks,” McDannold said. “They are part of the game but you can't let them beat you.
“We have got to get to the point where we worry about the next play and not the one that just happened.”
Two nights after scoring 38 kills against Henry County, the Lady Bearcats had just 14 against Shelby.
However, McDannold said he believes his team will remember what happened last Thursday and will be a better team. “We did not play to our potential,” he said. “We will get better every game.
“From day one (of practice) until today, the individual players have made great strides, but we have got to play as a team.
Anderson Co. 2, Henry Co. 1
Anderson registered a major district win last Tuesday with a hard-fought 26-24, 22-25, 25-22 win at Henry County.
Anderson's Hannah Smith dominated, scoring 21 kills in 30 attempts, in what is believed to be a school record.
“Hannah had a huge game,” McDannold said. “K.K. had a great game. Chelsea Payne had a great game. We played as a team.”
Fitzpatrick recorded 35 assists while Sandy Zhang was credited with 12 digs. She also had just four errors in 38 passing attempts. Payne, who had been fighting off a sickness, came up with six kills, five assists, three solo blocks and two block assists. Anderson had just 11 service errors in three games.
McDannold said that the district race will be neck-and-neck between Shelby, Anderson and Henry. “Very close,” he said as he held his hands together. “All three are right there with each other.”
E-mail John Herndon at email@example.com.