The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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October 9, 2013

Independence volleyball team shakes off difficult weekend

Patriots top Shady, Liberty in home matches Tuesday

Wisely, Independence’s volleyball team has put Saturday behind it.

The host Patriots rolled to a 2-1 victory over Shady Spring and a 2-0 decision over Liberty in a tri-match Tuesday night in Coal City.

Just three days earlier, a short-handed Independence club had struggled in the Capital Classic in Charleston.

Two players were out with illness and the JV team, also short-handed, was playing in a tournament at Woodrow Wilson. Coach Patty Bryant had just one sub available for the varsity, and sometimes players had to play out of position.

The Patriots had opened in Charleston with a 25-5, 25-13 flattening against Parkersburg. They tied Cabell Midland and Oak Hill, then lost a rematch to Cabell Midland.

“We were all out of sync,” Bryant said. “But this week we’ve had good practices. I’ve told them that now is the time they have to step it up. You can’t go backwards now.

“We’re going to wipe out Saturday and move forward from here.”

Competition was fierce, but Independence bounced back in style against an inspired Shady Spring club in Tuesday’s opening match.

Leads went back and fourth in all three games, but the Patriots came away with a 26-24, 22-25, 25-18 victory.

In a previous match the teams had split, with each winning a game by two points.

Shady got excellent play throughout from hitters McKenzie Severt, Taylor Durham and Rhae Eisenman. Independence answered with its dynamic duo up front of all-stater Anne Bass and a much-improved Skylar Kipps.

But above all, for the Patriots, there was the defense. Bryant was delighted with the play of Jessica Adkins, Kaitlyn Spencer and Stephanie Fletcher, and all-state setter Brooke Foley.

“Shady had a couple of players hitting real well, but my back row stepped up and pulled off a lot of digs,” she said.

They had to. Severt, a three-sport star at Shady, had moments when she was dominant with her enthusiastic play. She finished the match with eight kills and three blocks.

The senior continued her strong play in the second match of the night, a 25-14, 25-21 win over Liberty.

Early in the first game, Severt had six consecutive service points, including three for aces.

Liberty played solidly in the second game, and was leading 21-19. Shady’s Durham ended a three-point Raiders run with a kill, and she then served the Tigers to six consecutive points and the win.

Independence also defeated Liberty, 25-16, 25-23.

Liberty fell to 9-14 with the losses.

“We’re young and trying to gain experience,” coach Julie Firebaugh said. “We’re getting there.”

Shady Spring left immediately after the matches and was unavailable for comment.

Foley had 34 assists and Stephanie Fletcher had 20 digs in total for Independence (19-5-36), which  will play Thursday at Greater Beckley Christian

— E-mail: dstillwell

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