CARY — Panther Creek volleyball coach Bonnie O’Connor had hoped things would go better than they did in the Catamounts’ first go-round in the Tri-9 Conference.
Her goal for the next half of the conference slate was simple: improve, and be the team no one wants to play.
That plan seems off to a good start, as the Catamounts defeated Athens Drive 3-0 (25-17, 25-7, 25-17) on Tuesday. Though the two teams were side-by-side in the bottom of the standings, only Green Hope had swept the competitive Jaguars (2-10, 1-7) thus far this year.
Panther Creek had won the prior meeting between the two teams 3-1.
“I thought it was a great team effort. I made a lot of subs and they’re playing so much better than they were,” O’Connor said. “They were going after balls that we’ve let drop for the whole first part of the season.”
Panther Creek (4-9, 2-7) was never more in tune when they rattled off 12 straight points to close out game two.
A strong game by libero Sarah Pagan allowed the Catamounts showcase their improved passing. Many of those passes came to senior Lauren Tuttle, who had a breakout game with five kills and 3.5 blocks.
The Catamounts’ Stephanie Jewett had five kills, Sydnee Robinson added six and Katherine Kruse had a game-high eight. Erin Kirlik had four aces for PC.
“Everyone was having fun. It was like the good ol’ days of volleyball,” Tuttle said. “Everything was on-point, on-key – the sets, the passes, our defense was so much better, our offense was so much quicker – it just all came together.”
Athens Drive, which has just one senior on the roster, was led by junior middle blocker Rachel Kinsey (six kills) and sophomore Alex Porter (four).
“Right now we’re in a rut,” said first-year coach Jen Reeder. “I think it’s (due to) more of the immaturity of our team. We’re young. We start four sophomores and (we’re) trying to give them confidence to play all the way through a whole match.”
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