Lady Panthers scrap for VB win over Barons


Fairbanks’ Taylar Sphapmixay (11) sets the ball for Emma Griffey Monday evening against Buckeye Valley. The Lady Panthers won the match in three sets.

(Journal-Tribune photo by Tim Miller)


The Fairbanks varsity volleyball team went into Monday evening’s regular-season opener against Buckeye Valley the way it will go into nearly all of its matches this season.

The Panthers were outsized by the Lady Barons, but their scrappy play led to a 3-0 sweep over the visitors from Delaware County.

What Fairbanks lacked in size was more than made up for by good court movement and a solid passing game.

The ability to remain calm was also important.

“These girls don’t panic,” said coach Ed Marsman. “I pretty much remain on an even keel during matches and I think the girls feed off that.”
    The “no-panic” mentality was evident throughout the contest.

The Lady Panthers led, 20-13, at one point during the opening set, saw BV roar back for a 24-22 lead and then rallied for a 29-27 overtime triumph.

The Barons were just one point away from winning the opening game at 24-22 after Fairbanks sent the ball out of bounds.

FHS pulled to within a point on a BV hitting miscue.

Anna Higbee of FHS then tipped the ball over for a 24-24 stalemate.

The set was tied at points 25 and 26.

Taylar Sphapmixay set a kill for Kaidie Carstensen that gave the Panthers a 27-26 edge.

An FHS hitting mistake tied the score at 27, but an errant Baron block gave the Lady Panthers a 28-27 lead.

Buckeye Valley couldn’t play the ball off the rafters, which led to FHS’ winning point.

The second game was a tight battle early in the action as both squads held one or two-point margins.

Fairbanks (which will travel to Mechanicsburg this evening) began to break away when the Barons committed several hitting mistakes.

A tip over the net by Higbee pushed the Lady Panthers out to a 16-10 advantage.

A kill from Sphapmixay gave Fairbanks a 19-12 margin.

Buckeye Valley didn’t put up as much of a rally down the stretch in this set.

FHS reached set point at 24-16 when the Barons could not handle Carstensen’s hot shot over the net.

A BV hitting miscue gave Fairbanks the 25-16 victory and a 2-0 lead in sets.

The Lady Panthers held what appeared to be a comfortable lead during the third game, only to once again see the Barons make a comeback.

Kills from Jayda Rausch, Carstensen and Higbee propelled FHS out to a 16-9 lead.

Buckeye Valley, however, blasted away at the margin with the help of Panther hitting and passing miscues.

The Barons went on a 13-4 run and grabbed a 22-20 lead when a Fairbanks block went awry.

Marsman called timeout in order to get the team back in rhythm.

Once action resumed, FHS tied the score on a block by Emma Griffey and a bad hit from Buckeye  Valley.

The game was deadlocked at points 23 and 24 before a BV net violation gave the Lady Panthers a 25-24 edge.

Carstensen then ended the set and match with a kill for a 26-24 win.

Marsman was pleased with the grit his team displayed.

“We’re short, but we can attack the ball,” he said. “We stepped up in crucial situations and we know we can finish games.”

Stats for the match were as follows:

-Carstensen: 17 kills, four blocks, five points, two ace serves;

-Sphapmixay: 34-of-34 on sets, 14 assists, 11 kills;

-Cassie Lamb: 18-of-18 serving, 13 points, 52-of-54 setting, 22 assists;

-Lizzie Nicol: 17-of-17 serving, 12 points;

-Rausch: 15 attacks, eight kills;

-Griffey: 12 attacks, two blocks;

-Higbee: 18-of-18 serving, 12 points, three aces;

-Olivia Vollrath: 14 passes, five points.


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