JOHN CURTIS - Daily Union Sports Editor
Shelbyville Daily Union
---- — The Shelbyville Lady Rams brought the homecoming heat on Thursday and manhandled visiting Meridian in staright games, 25-18, 25-15.
"This was one of the most complete matches we've played," said Ram coach Lisa Peifer. "The few lapses we had were stopped quickly and we got a great match out of Brandy (Smith). They couldn't stop her and our setters were pretty smart in dishing out the ball.
"One of the biggest differences between us was the pass off service. We were consistent, which allowed us to side out. We also frustrated them on the block, which was nice. It was a great way to end homecoming week. We had a big crowd and they saw a good win."
Shelbyville knocked off Neoga on Monday, clobbered Clinton and now munched Meridian all on homecoming week.
After the Shelby JV took care of business in two games, Thursday, the varsity Lady Rams went two steps forward, one step back, building a 7-point lead and holding it until the final point of game 1.
In game 2, Shelby fell behind early, caught up and battled back and forth until Courtney Williams went on a 9-point service run. With that cushion it was more back and forth until Shelby was on the threshold of match point. They finished with a 3-point flurry to get the win.
Lindsey Eigsti served the Rams to a 3-0 lead in game 1, including a Madison Boone block for a point. Meridian cut the lead to 4-3 Rams, before hitting out.
Boone went to the line and served an ace and Shelby was called in the net, 7-4. Shelby missed a kill, Meridian served an ace and a cross-court kill wasn't covered, making it a 1-point game, 8-7 Rams.
Meridian missed a free ball opportunity and gave Kelcie darnell the serve. Claudia "Lefty" Watson fired a 1-timer for a quick kill, then rachel Fox tipped for a point. Darnell delivered an ace and Meridian called time-out, down 12-7.
The Hawks got a side-out, but Williams dished a perfect set to Brandy Smith for the kill. Smith went to the line and Fox had a tip block, 14-8. Meridian got as isde-out on the second service error by the Rams.
On the next point, Jensen Cloe raced towards the back wall after a ball and save it with an overhead. It was sent across the net and Shelby got the point. Eigsti went to the line and served two more points on Hawk errors for the biggest lead of the game, 17-9.
A free ball tip gave Meridian the serve, Shelby missed a kill and the Hawks got another free tip. Two hits by the Rams cut the lead to four, 17-13.
Haley Eisenbarth rose to the occasion and swung for the kill. Rachel Fox went to the line and Boone blocked again for a point. After a Ram block slowed a ball Eigsti quick-tipped for a point, 20-13.
At 21-16, Smith swung for another kill and gave Williams the serve. "Lefty" Watson swung for another kill and gave Darnell the serve, 23-17. Darnell delivered another ace to bring game point. On 24-18, "Lefty" scored another kill for the game.
Game 2 started with the Hawks on a 4-1 run. Eisenbarth took a swing, it came back, and she blocked for the point. Fox served and Boone crushed a free ball for a kill. Brandy Smith had a save and Boone blocked Meridian's middle hitter to tie the score, 4-4.
Tit for tat started. Meridian scored on a tip. Boone swung for another kill. A third Ram service error gave the Hawks the ball and Shelby missed a shot, 7-5 Hawks.
Meridian blew a serve and Williams strolled to the line.She started her 9-point run with a short ace to tie the score. Smith then killed off a block, back-to-back, 9-7 Rams.
Smith scored her third point in a row on a tip. The rams scored again and Smith shot a kill across the net, and it was tipped on its way out. Meridian had to call time-out, down 14-7.
The Hawks got a kill, but then lifted a ball and hit out, 16-8 Rams. Watson had a swing, it came back as a free ball and Smith powdered it, 17-9.
Meridian cut the lead to 18-11, then gave away a point on a service error. Eigsti served and Eisenbarth tipped for a point, 20-11. Meridian called time-out again.
The Hawks scored two points after the pause, but Boone swung for another kill. Meridian scored, but darnell hit a kill shot. meridian had a kill, but Smith answered that sore with yet another kill. Williams took the ball to the line at 23-15 and served out the match.
Williams served and Smith killed down the line, 24-15. Williams served once more and it never came back, ace, point, game, match.
Shelbyville varsity (13-6, 5-0 Okaw) and JV (8-1, 5-0) play at Monticello on Tuesday.
Shelbyville def. Meridian 25-18, 25-15
Ram stats: Lindsey Egsti 9 points, 1 kill, 7 assists, 1 dig; Claudia Watson 3 kills, 1 dig; Rachel Fox 8 points, 1 kill, 4 digs, 2 blocks; Madison Boone 6 points, 3 kills, 5 digs, 3 blocks; Courtney Williams 14 points, 2 aces, 7 assists, 3 digs; Kelcie Darnell 9 points, 2 aces, 1 kill, 1 block; Brandy Smith 4 points, 10 kills, 3 digs; Haley Eisenbarth 2 kills, 3 digs.
Shelby JV contended an emrged from both games as the winner, 25-23, 25-20.
"We came out and were ready to play," said Ram JV Jamie Watson. "I was a litle nervous about being focused with all the homecoming activities going on, but they came out fired up and played hard for both games. My outside hitters stepped up. This was a good win for us."
Hannah Koonce was on fire, delivering nine kills, while Ryann Ambrose and Sydney Miller added to the attack with five kills, each. Ambrose and Miller also had a block, each.
In the JV match, Shelby took game 1, then found themselves behind 18-16 in game 1. Hannah Koonce went to the line and scored three straight, including an ace to take the lead, 19-18.
Meridian tied it and Sydney Miller hit a kill, giving Maddie Holland the ball. She served two points, including an ace and Shelby was up, 22-19.
Meridian had a kill tipped, then served two aces and took a 23-22 lead. Ram JV Coach Jamie Watson called time-out.
Miller scored on a free tip after the pause to knot the score, 23-23. Jacque Johnston went to the line and set up shop. Ryann Ambrose hit a free ball kill off the net, then Johsnton served an ace on game point, 25-23.
Game 2 was a tug of war 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 6-6. Finally, Ambrose killed again off the net, 7-6. Hannah Koonce killed for an 8-6 lead, then Meridian missed a tip, bringing a time-out at 9-6 Rams.
At 9-8, Meridian blew a serve. Koonce smacked another kill. At 11-9, Koonce killed again. meridian went on a 5-point run, precipitating in a Ram time-out.
A Hawk ace made it 16-12. Then Johnston reached out for a fist save, then Koonce killed off the net to break the 7-point run.
Koonce went to the line and served an ace. Still down 18-16, Shelby got the ball on a hitting eror. Johnston went to the line and pitched a tent.
She served an ace, then Koonce swung for another kill, tying the score, 18-18. Sydney Miller had a save and Torre Koontz defended the net for a point. Miller tipped a ball. It came back and she put it away, bringing a Hawk time-out at 20-18.
Out of the break, Ambrose sizzled a ball across the net and it pinballed around the other side, caroming off a Hawk, ricocheting off the ceiling, smacking off another player, then another player and to the court, 21-18.
Meridian cut it to 21-20, then Ambrose and Koontz defended the net for a point. Miller went to the line and served out the match. She served an ace, Meridian had a bad pass, then Miller served another ace on match point.
Shelbyville def. Meridian 25-23, 25-20
Ram stats: Caylee Wheeler 6 points, 7 assists, 5 digs; Sydney Miller 11 points, 1 ace, 5 kills, 2 digs, 1 block; Ryann Ambrose 1 point, 5 kills, 1 dig, 1 block; Blair Johnston 4 points, 10 digs; Jacque Johnston 15 points, 1 ace, 2 kills, 12 assists, 7 digs, 1 block; Hannah Koonce 8 points, 2 aces, 9 kills, 6 digs; Maddie Holland 5 points, 1 ace, 2 kills, 1 dig, 2 blocks; Torre Koontz 1 kill, 1 block; Madison Towne 1 dig.