Panama Outlasts Chautauqua Lake In South Division Match
The two teams had previously met on Saturday during a warmup tournament in North Collins, with Panama taking two of the three matches before entering hostile territory yesterday.
“My expectations were for them to play together, and gel together and talk, and they did that, for the most part,” said Lady Panthers coach Tammy Hosier. “They definitely rebounded from the weekend and that was the main goal right there, to get back and play our game.
“Chautauqua Lake does a great job of getting you out of your game, and so we were playing a lot of out-of-system, and so we just talked about that and everybody had to up the communication and talk and settle down and do what we can do,” added Hosier.
The opening set of the evening saw both the Lady Thunderbirds and Lady Panthers begin with strong play, with the two teams trading points back and forth up until Panama was able to notch an 8-4 lead behind crucial digs by sophomore Natalie Angeletti and junior Alexys Marsh.
Sophomore Sophia Woodis responded with a kill down the sideline for Chautauqua Lake, which was able to hang with the defending state champions, narrowing the lead to two at 13-11. A block by Abbie Henry of Chautauqua Lake evened the match at 14, which was also aided by the serving of Olivia Anderson.
Eventually it was a serve by Cameryn Hawkins and a kill off the top of the net by Jenna Briggs that gave the Lady Thunderbirds the lead at 21-19, but Hosier was quick to call a timeout and rally her troops. Ultimately, a kill by Angeletti and some strong serving sealed the opening set for the visitors, with good sets coming courtesy of Quinn Payne.
“Even when Panama is not returning state champs we always have a tough battle. That’s kind of to be expected. The kids look forward to it almost,” said Chautauqua Lake coach Joanne Meadows. “They got to some balls that I was surprised they got to, but we kind of expected it to be a touch match. I’ve got a pretty young team so a lot of my kids are first-year starters on varsity, or didn’t see a lot of playing time last year if they were on varsity. So we’ve been working on being focused and regardless of what the score is, trying to play steady.”
After fending off a charge in the opening game, Panama carried its momentum into the second set by opening up a 5-0 lead that quickly stretched to a 10-3 margin following a few missed opportunities by the Lady Thunderbirds. Chautauqua Lake was able to demonstrate some resilience however, climbing back to within three points after strong serving by Olivia Anderson and a block by Cianna Braymiller.
That comeback was short lived, however, as junior Madalyn Bowen helped to regain the lead with a one-handed push winner and another kill.
“Honestly, that’s what we have to do to win,” Hosier said of her team’s balanced play in the second set. “Tonight the whole team just played together as a unit.”
In the final set of the night, it was the Lady Panthers who had to climb out of a hole as Chautauqua Lake jumped out to a 3-0 lead that it carried all the way to an 8-7 margin. It was at that time that a long rally went the way of Panama to make it 8-8, at which time Maci Johnson stepped to the service line and pushed her team back into the lead, one that they would not relinquish. More strong serving from the Lady Panthers proved too much for the hosts, as they cruised to victory in straight sets.
NOTES: Chautauqua Lake was led by Anderson with six kills, four aces and eight digs; Hawkins with three aces and 13 digs; and Bryanna Davis with 12 digs. … For Panama, Bowen finished with 12 kills, seven digs, four points and one ace; Payne collected 20 assists, three digs and five points; Figueroa had three kills, one dig, five blocks, 19 points and five aces; and Johnson had 13 digs and five points.