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Lady Pioneers' valiant effort falls bit short

Johnny Wilson • Sep 18, 2018 at 10:25 PM

BRISTOL — Volleyball coach Marquis Clark is a chatty mentor, always teaching and instructing from his usual seat on the David Crockett sideline.

Try as he might, however, Clark was unable to "coach-up" his troops quite enough Tuesday as Tennessee High claimed a 25-10, 20-25 17-25, 25-18, 15-8 Big Six Conference decision over the gallant Pioneers.

On senior night at Viking Hall, the verdict left THS with a 13-9 record and Crockett with a 7-17 mark.

"Every match, every practice is an opportunity to get better," Clark said. "If I've gotta take 17 losses in a season then we're going to learn something from it.

"If we're not constantly instructing these girls, particularly the young ones, then we're not training them. And as we learn every play and every day, eventually — knock on wood — it'll all come together and we'll become successful."

COULDN'T FINISH

After getting dusted in the opening set, Crockett came back to win the second and third games and was in prime position to claim an upset victory.

"We could've won," said Clark, whose club was led by senior Joanna Smith (35 assists), junior Maddie Pleasant (30 digs) and senior Breanna O'Shields (11 kills). "We just didn't make enough plays in the fourth and fifth sets.

"We had a little lull there when I think we took our foot off the gas and became a little timid. If you do that on the road on someone else's senior night, the other team is going to jump in that gap that you left open."

DECISIVE SET

Crockett was its own worse enemy in the fifth game, which featured nine unforced errors by the Pioneers.

The Vikings, who received a game-high 15 kills from Sahra Lambert as well as 11 each from Maggie Hicks and Kloey Tester, led 7-2 and cruised to the win.

"We tried to fight back a little bit but we just had too many errors that fifth game," said the 6-foot-5 Clark, a Dodge City, Kansas, native who was a high jumper at Kansas State University. "You make two or three errors early in the final set and that's the ball game."

TIP OF THE HAT

THS coach Mary Johnson knew her Vikings were fortunate to get out alive.

"It's just the game of volleyball, to go five sets most of the time," Johnson said. "But I want to give credit to David Crockett, who came out with a great desire to win and very nearly pulled it off.

"I feel quite lucky that we won, to be honest."

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