By GREG KEIM
THE GOSHEN NEWS
In the first and third sets, Concord High School volleyball coach Laurie Rhoades felt pretty good about the way her team played in an NLC match with Elkhart Memorial Thursday night at Concord.
It was in the second game where her team struggled in a 25-23, 25-11, 25-21 loss to the perennial powerhouse Crimson Chargers.
“The first and third games showed how we are capable of playing,” the coach said. “I don’t know what happened in the second. Other than the wheels came off. We can not get over the hump against Memorial. I think it’s a mental thing.
“Memorial is very tough. They are everywhere on the court. They are a very experienced team and we are rather young.”
The Crimson Chargers have a goal for the season.
“Our first goal for the year is winning the NLC title,” Charger coach Jacquie Rost said. “We are taking every conference opponent seriously.
“We were able to watch Concord last week so we knew some of the things they would try to do and we had strategies ready. One thing we knew was that most of their hitting would go through (junior) Gabby Staggs. She is a good athlete and she is tall. Those are thing you can’t coach.”
Memorial was effective blocking at the net. Sophomore Darrian Mowery had two solo and five assisted blocks, junior Tailor Schultheis one and five and senior Chelsea Bettis one and two.
“That is more blocks than we normally have,” Rost said. “We have been working hard on that in practice so it’s nice to see the girls take to the games.”
Staggs had two and sometimes three blockers on her most of the night.
“She needs to learn from this about using alternative shots where you have blockers on you like that,” Rhoades said. “She is only a junior and will learn that lesson.”
Mowery totaled 13 kills, Bettis 10 and Schultheis six to lead Memorial.
“The second set we owned the net,” Rost said. “We were very aggressive.”
Rost was pleased with her’s team’s play in another aspect.
“The best thing we did tonight was to overcome our own mistakes,” she said. “That seems to be the character of this group.”
Down two games Concord worked hard on trying to pull out the third game. The hosts had a 20-19 lead before Mowery tied the score with a kill. Memorial took a 21-20 lead on a kill by Schultheis only to have Concord knot the score on a kill by junior Ciana Bonfiglio. Memorial then scored the next four points for the victory.
“There were some long rallies in the match and it was fun to watch even when losing,” Rhodaes said. “Except for that second game.”
The coach was impressed with her team’s defense.
“We have three really good defensive specialists in Bonfiglio, (junior) Jade Iavagnilio and (senior) Cassidy Higgins,” Rhoades said.
The coach was also impressed with the play of sophomore setter Nicky Chupp.
“To come in and play like she did at this level as a sophomore is something,” Rhoades said. “She does a lot of good for our team.”
Chupp had a team-high 14 assists. Junior Holyn Eldridge chipped in with 11 assists.
Aces — Mackenzie Granitz 2, Jade Iavagnilio 1, Nicky Chupp 1. Assists — Nicky Chupp 14, Holyn Eldridge 11. Kills —Holyn Eldridge 10, Gabby Staggs 8, Mackenzie Granitz 5, Blocks — Gabby Staggs 4 (2 solo).
Aces — Claire Welter 4, Jill Brown 3. Assists — Tori Mills 30. Kills —Darrian Mowery 133, Chelsea Bettis 10, Tailor Schultheis 6. Digs — Claire Welter 35, Tori Mills 15, Kaylin Szucs 13, Blocks — Tailor Schultheis 1 solo, 5 assisted; Darrian Mowery 2, 5; Chelsea Bettis 1, 2.
JV: Memorial won 25-12, 25-13. (Concord: McKenzie Loge 2 aces, 3 kills, 8 assists; Karmin Hensley 1 ace, 6 digs; Emma Westlake 4 kills, Megan Cline 7 digs).
Records: Concord (10-5, 1-1 NLC) hosts its invitational Saturday. Memorial is 6-4, 2-0.