Niles sweeps Chaney
NILES — Both the Chaney Cowgirls and the Niles Red Dragons seem to be going through a transition period.
Jacquelyn Weems is in her first year running a program that is only in its third year back after sports returned to Chaney due to a hiatus from 2011 to 2018.
Niles is a senior laden team but have struggled at times to put it fully together.
With Chaney only dressing seven girls on varsity, the Red Dragons were able to play with their lineup a bit more and it was successful in their three set sweep Wednesday night, 25-5, 25-13, and 25-12.
“We definitely have a younger team,” Weems said. “That’s one of the things we’re working on. Girls aren’t really starting off at fifth grade, so a lot of these girls on my JV team, it’s their first time even holding a volleyball.
“We’ve really made big strides as far as ability and endurance, other things I’m hoping to reach out to more girls as the years follow, so that we can have a larger team because as you see we have small numbers. Unfortunately, it’s why other teams can tap out, and switch other girls. We don’t have that advantage.”
The Red Dragons (4-6) had 26 aces with Halle Snider and Alaina Thigpen leading the charge as Niles opened up a 12-1 advantage in the opening set before Chaney (1-10) called a timeout.
With a fan blowing during warmups, there was concern on the Chaney sideline about a slick floor which definitely seemed to cause some trepidation early on.
“I think the big problem here was the girls were not used to this floor,” Weems said. “It was really slick. My girls were kind of scared about hurting themselves. So trying to overcompensate for that was definitely huge. That was our biggest challenge. I definitely think with a little bit better circumstances that we would have definitely been able to score a little bit more on them.”
That concern seemed to dissipate in the second set as the Cowgirls opened up an early 4-0 lead thanks to the serving of Rayiona Wilson.
“They definitely woke up and realized that the other team was going to overcome the floor being a little slick,” Weems said. “I hate to use it as a crutch. That’s what their big problem was but then they went after them. This is our condition. Let’s overcome the conditions. It lit up a little fire in them to work together more as a team.”
It was much more of a back-and-forth affair in the second set before Snider’s serving turned a 9-9 tie into a 14-9 advantage that the Cowgirls couldn’t overcome before falling 25-13.
Niles coach Taylor Pegg felt her lineup of all seniors didn’t work as well as she was hoping.
“The second set, I’ve had my senior lineup so I let them play all the way around,” she added. “I noticed that they don’t take it as seriously. They mess around more when it’s the six seniors and not the real lineup. I did have to make some subs there but my juniors keep the energy on the court all the time. They are so loud. Not that my seniors aren’t but my three juniors are always loud and always cheering.”
In the third set, Chaney’s limited numbers seemed to do them in as some fatigue wore in as they fell behind 9-2.
“We definitely used it to our advantage for them only having six people,” Pegg said. “I was messing around with my lineup. I made a bunch of subs and got some JV girls in because I have six seniors. Next year is going to be a whole new team.
“So I wanted to give them the experience now. I work with them on their defense, serve receive, and their serves all the time. I think this defense Niles has this year is one of the best defenses that they’ve had in a long time.”
That seemed evident as points were tough to come by as Chaney fell 25-12 in the final set.
Abbey Reed and Mia Keeley led the Red Dragons with five kills a piece. Snider, Thigpen, and Samara Medley each added five digs.
“Halle did an amazing job,” Pegg said. “She had a bunch of kills. It was one of her best games. She had a great game and she usually doesn’t play the back row.”