The Cougar volleyball team suffered its third straight loss Monday at home as the visiting Elizabethtown Panthers beat them in three straight sets, 26-24, 25-16, 25-20.
In the earlier games, the Cougar JV squad beat the Panthers in straight sets, 21-11, 23-21, and the freshman team also won in straight sets, 21-7, 21-12.
The Panthers (14-6) are a team that is led by a group of young players. Freshman Morgan Gattis is a freshman middle hitter that gave Grayson County fits with her hitting and blocking.
Sophomore Saylor Sandlin is the team’s setter and her pinpoint passing set up Gattis and the other Panther hitters time after time. Sophomore Maddie Reding’s powerful hitting on the outside was also a big part of the Panthers’ success.
The Cougars got off to a great start, scoring the first five points behind the serving of senior libero, Shelby Watkins. But E’town answered back taking as much as a four-point lead later in the set, 13-9.
The lead then see-sawed back and forth before the Cougars had a set-point at 24-22. But a hitting error on the next volley kept the Panthers alive. E’town tied it 24-24, before Sandlin dunked a ball into an open spot to give the Panthers a set-point, and when Emma Wilder sent a ball long, the Panthers had the first-set win.
Grayson County sleep-walked through the second set. After nine straight rally points by the two teams, the Panthers took the serve leading by two, 14-12. Five straight points gave them a commanding 19-12 lead.
The Cougars staved off two set points before sophomore Kate Prather put away a kill to give the visitors the second set, 24-16.
After trailing in the early going of the third set, the Cougars battled back to take a narrow lead. They expanded it to seven points, 20-13 before a Reding kill gave the ball to E’town’s Sandlin.
The setter then showed she was a fine server as well as she served 11 straight points to hand her team the straight-set win. Sandlin had a pair of aces in the run, Gattis had two kills and a block, and Reding contributed four kills, including the winning point.
The Cougars trailed in the early going before going in front 5-3. The two teams stayed within a point or two of one another until Grayson County was able to expand its lead to six points at 15-9.
The Panthers pulled back to within four points, 15-11 before a service error gave the ball back to the Cougars at 16-11. Megan Duvall then served out for the win as the Panthers hurt themselves with hitting errors.
The two teams traded the lead several times in the second set before the Panthers had a set-point, leading 20-18. A service error then gave the ball back to Grayson County and Mallory Thomas had a kill to tie things at 20-20.
E’town had a second set-point at 21-2o, but Thomas spoiled that with another kill to tie things once again. Kelsey Logsdon then had a kill off a Panther overpass to give the Cougars a match-point at 22-21, and a Panther hitting error on the next volley gave the match to the Cougars.
The Cougars trailed 4-5 in the early going before going on a 10-0 run to take charge of the first set. Maggie Clark served two aces and Laura Higdon had a kill during the run.
Grayson County served at set-point, 20-6, but a hitting error gave the ball back to E’town. A hitting error by the Panthers then gave Grayson County the first-set win, 21-7.
The Cougars trailed again in the early going before taking over the serve tied at 7-7. Katie Mullins, Olivia Lucas and Higdon all had kills in a 5-0 run that put Grayson County in charge 12-7.
Still leading by five, 17-12, Higdon served out for the win. An ace and two Clark kills gave Grayson County a match-point at 20-12 before a Panther error gave them the win.
Reach Don Brown at 259-9622, ext. 2016.