Chelsea Caldwell-Moore’s job this season centers around convincing Shelbyville’s volleyball team it can win without overpowering the competition.
In the season opener Tuesday at William L. Garrett Gymnasium, the Golden Bears’ defense-first strategy pushed them within three points of a first set win over Franklin.
A Shelbyville hitting error followed by kills from Rachel Kinney and Brook Phillips gave the Grizzly Cubs the win and, more importantly, the momentum which carried them to a three-set win.
Kinney smashed 16 kills and Phillips had 30 assists in Franklin’s 25-23, 25-13, 25-14 win over Shelbyville which left Caldwell-Moore frustrated but not bowed.
“First game showed how much we’ve been working on (our defense),” said the Shelbyville coach. “I’m not pleased with the second and third games but I will take the first one.”
Franklin struggled with its serve in game one (eight service errors) and had one working offensive option — Kinney taking big, effective swings. That allowed the Golden Bears to sit back and stay clean. The result was leads of 5-2, 10-6, 15-9 and 17-11 before Franklin started building momentum.
Back-to-back serving aces by Alyvia Sundheimer cut the Shelbyville lead to 17-15 which forced Caldwell-Moore to call timeout. But without a consistently powerful hitter, there was no way to finish off points.
Five of Shelbyville’s final six points came off Franklin mistakes. The only exception was Zoe Laker’s spike that made it 20-16.
From there, Franklin scored nine of the final 12 points which carried over into an 8-2 lead in match two.
“I think it would have changed our momentum,” said Caldwell-Moore when asked if winning game one would have changed the outcome. “Maybe we would have realized we can do this. It’s something we have to keep working on.”
Shelbyville never got closer than 12-7 in game two when Franklin went to more tips over the block attempt to score points.
The Golden Bears got off to a better start in game three with a Grace Laker block and a Hannah Dwenger ace but the Grizzly Cubs scored 10 of the next 12 points to regain control.
“The change in momentum was my real disappointment,” said Caldwell-Moore. “The change in momentum and our passing… we couldn’t get a pass up to run our middles so (Franklin) knew we were going to the outside or the right side so their blockers got all over us.”
Zoe Laker led the Golden Bears with seven kills. Dwenger had 14 assists and nine digs to go with four aces.
Franklin won the junior varsity match, 25-18, 20-25, 15-14.
Hannah Johnson led the Golden Bears with five kills. Alex Watson and Morgan Stieneker each had three digs.
Jeff Brown is the Sports editor of The Shelbyville News. Follow Jeff on Twitter at @iamtsnsports.